By Antoinette Vega
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON With an additional 5,000 troops moving to the area next year, Bell County commissioners on Monday discussed their endeavor to ease congestion at the county courthouse annex in Killeen.
Last July, commissioners, in a land swap, acquired two buildings adjacent to the county's Killeen annex off of Priest Drive.
Commissioners agreed to the land swap with former Killeen Councilman Gary Purser. Purser agreed to give the county a 12,360-square-foot building and a 2,500-square-foot building in exchange for $500,000 worth of property from the county.
The Purser buildings, which had stood vacant for several years, had been appraised by the county appraisal district at $822,000.
The county has 15,960 square feet in the current annex building.
Commissioner John Fisher, who represents the largest portion of Killeen on the commissioners court, said the expansion is the county's way of taking a proactive stance on Killeen's future growth.
"We are making room in order to handle the troops coming in," Fisher said. "It is not just for the military, but we know that is what will cause the increased congestion."
The annex will not offer new services, but its offices will be re-arranged to afford more breathing room for the anticipated crowds.
The office of the tax assessor-collector would move into one of the buildings and adult probation services would have its own building.
"Present services will have a lot more room," Fisher said.
Project Engineer Charlie Volter, of the Volter Group in Temple, told the commissioners in a Monday workshop the building's renovation needs to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Renovations include painting, roof and ceiling improvements and the replacement of light fixtures.
"It is not a little chore," Volter said. "It involves a lot of little things."
Volter said parking would be the most difficult issue to figure out.
"We need a thorough study of the parking," Volter said.
Fisher said the money for the renovations would be taken from the general fund, although the cost has not been determined.
Commissioners also hope the opening of the vehicle registration office at Fort Hood, expected in October, will help ease congestion.
"It would be more convenient," Fisher said.
Fisher said construction on the Killeen annex would not begin for two to three months and would not be ready until after the first of the year.
"We have 30 days to get a construction manager," Fisher said. "We plan to vacate one building and move everyone into another one. Then renovate it and move everyone back in."
The commissioners also:
n Approved the installation of stop signs at the intersection of Tem-Bel Lane and the BN & SF Railroad and on Little Mexico Road at Airport Trail.
n Approved the installation of yield signs on East Creekview at Mission Trail, on West Creekview at Mission Trail, Cheyenne Pass at Mission Trail and Crystal Spring Court at Mission Trail.
n Approved an interlocal agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation regarding right of way and utility relocation for the State Highway 95 at Little River Project in the amount of $10,000.
n Authorized the county auditor to advertise for proposals for Bell County Correctional Facilities Pharmacy Services and Pharmacy Benefit Management Services for County Indigent Health Care Program and other indigent pharmacy services.
Contact Antoinette Vega at email@example.com