Rosenberg residents will vote in November on a $35.5 million bond package that will finance a new fire station-fire administration office, and a public services complex.
City Council reviewed a facilities needs study during Tuesday night’s workshop meeting and voted 6-1 to support the projects and put the bond issue on the November ballot.
At its January workshop, council had reviewed the city’s master facilities plan adopted in August 2015, population growth and present and future staffing needs. At that workshop, council agreed to re-prioritize the master facilities plan and start addressing the needs for new facilities.
“I think it’s long overdue and I think the longer we keep waiting, the more costs will keep rising,” Mayor Kevin Raines said.
On Tuesday, Assistant City Manager Joyce Vasut explained the need for the new facilities.
The first priority is Fire Station No. 1.
The second priority is Fire Station No. 4, fire administration and emergency operations center.
The third priority is a public services complex.
Priority No. 1, renovation and expansion of fire station No. 1 is in the design stage and a grant application has been submitted to the Texas General Land Office for the construction phase of the project.
Priority No. 2, the new fire station No. 4, fire administration and emergency operations center complex would cost an estimated $12.4 million.
Priority No. 3, the public facilities complex, would cost an estimated $23.1 million and calls for the relocation of fleet maintenance, public works, utilities, capital projects, building maintenance, parks and city engineer offices to one location on Airport Avenue.
Fire station complex
Fire Station No. 4 is located on SH 36 and Band Road in south Rosenberg and is being leased from Fort Bend County. The lease will expire on Dec. 31, 2029. Vasut said the county has notified the city that the lease would not be renewed.
With the addition of the new ladder truck, fire station No 4 has limited space for new equipment and no room for expansion.
The new fire station No. 4 complex would be built across the road on city-owned property near Seabourne Creek Nature Park in order to meet response times in that area and because of the continuing growth on the south and west side of Rosenberg.
By maintaining its presence on that side of town, the city can also maintain its present ISO rating. The Insurance Services Office rating helps to determine property insurance costs. The better the fire service, the lower the insurance costs to homeowners and businesses and the city.
The fire administration building is also leased from the county. Located at 4336 SH 36 near fire station No. 4, the fire administration building lease is also set to expire Dec. 31, 2029.
Vasut said the building is in fair/poor condition and building maintenance costs are rising annually. She said the office is filled to capacity. The city’s emergency operations office is also located in the building but has recently been converted into a police department training room for patrol officers.
City staff proposes the new fire station No 4 complex would include four bays for the fire department and room for growth, offices for the fire administration staff and fire marshal’s staff with room for growth and a training room that can be turned into an emergency operations center when needed.
Public services complex
The public services complex would include space for fleet maintenance, public works, building maintenance, utilities-administration-capital improvement projects staff, city engineer and parks department.
In 2015, the fleet department was considered to be in fair to poor condition and has flooded three times since then. The Brazos River, located adjacent to the property, is encroaching. The fuel island is 27 years old and the useful life of the underground tanks is only 30 years, after which time they would have to be replaced. Large equipment will not fit into the shop area and has to be worked on outside. Also, there is not adequate space for vehicles, equipment, tools and supplies to maintain over 300 pieces of rolling stock. In addition, valuable tools, equipment and supplies are not secured.
The public works building is over 30 years old and in 2015 deemed to be in poor condition. The 18 employees who work there share a small break room, kitchen, and one restroom. The sign shop is too small for new, updated equipment needs and storage of materials and supplies. The public works shop has been filled with built-in office spaces and a work area for building maintenance. There is also not adequate parking and space for vehicles, equipment, tools, and supplies or enough secure storage. In addition, when the city population reaches 50,000, Rosenberg will be required to add a traffic division.
Building maintenance department was created in 2015 and space was made inside the building for a workshop area and office. Employees share a kitchen, break room and restroom with the public works department. It is overcrowded work space and lack of space to store supplies. In addition, there is inadequate space to securely store tools and equipment.
The utilities/administration/capital projects building is located at 2630 Ave. A and was only designed to be temporary office space. Presently, all offices are filled and more space is needed. The restroom and break room facilities are not adequate for the 25 employees. Large equipment, such as a vacuum truck, will not fit in the enclosed parking area and must be protected from the elements. Also, there is not adequate space for vehicles, equipment, tools and supplies inside the building. Valuable tools, equipment and supplies are not properly secured. The need for space for employees is expected to double over the next 10 years.
City engineering department currently has one office in City Hall and no space for an assistant city engineer. The department will need to be expanded to include administrative support, a storm water management coordinator, and quality control inspectors and someone to manage them.
The parks department building was built in the 1950s and in 2015 was deemed to be in fair/good condition. The roof was replaced over 20 years ago and is past its warranty period. The building houses official city records as well as props, decorations and other items from city events.
Combined location for public services
Vasut reminded the council that the public services departments are spread out across town, which is inefficient and ineffective management practices.
Moving public services to a central location within the city will save wear and tear on vehicles and equipment and save staff time, she said.
A centralized fuel depot would also save the city money.
Vasut said the buildings presently used by public services departments are operating at or beyond capacity and need to be expanded to meet current and future growth in staff.
She said modifications have been made to the facilities over the years without changing mechanical or other systems.
Restrooms and common areas are no longer adequate for the growing staff.
American Disability Act and Texas Accessibility Stands are not being met in older buildings.
Building maintenance costs are increasing annually as the facilities age and there are more heating/AC issues.
What a new complex would look like
A centralized public services complex would be located on city-owned property on Airport Avenue and include a main building with offices and shared space for conference rooms, training room, kitchen, break room, restrooms, locker rooms, supply room and technology room.
Additional buildings would be constructed for workshop space, including necessary enclosed parking for some equipment. Covered parking would also be included for some vehicles and equipment when necessary.
Vasut said the next steps are for the council to let staff know if its supports the proposals, approves plans to engage a firm to provide a detailed cost estimate and detailed look at both complexes, and approves the projects for a November 2023 bond election.
Six council members agreed to support the projects and bond election.
“I think this is well needed,” District 4 councilman George Zepeda said.
At-Large 1 councilman Marc Morales asked if the projects would occur in phases. Vasut assured him they would.
Morales, who serves as mayor pro tem, voted in support of the projects and the bond election.
Had the city built the new fire station no. 4 back in 2016 when it was first proposed, it would have cost about $7 million and not the $12.4 million today, At-Large 2 city councilwoman Alicia Casias said. Likewise, had the public services complex been built years ago as proposed it would have only cost about $10 million, she noted.
“It wasn’t done in the past so we’re going to pay (more) for it now, but, yes, it is something that is needed,” she said.
District 3 councilman Hector Trevino voted no on the proposal, saying he needed more time to think on it.
District 2 councilwoman Susan Euton supported the proposals as did District 1 councilman Keith Parker.
“I think it boils down to one thing, if you want to serve the public and you don’t have adequate equipment (or facilities), you can’t serve the public,” Parker said.
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