Bryan Council Approves Justice Center Bid

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Bryan's city council has voted unanimously to accept the low bid for construction of the new Justice Center. Despite being millions of dollars over their original budget, the council decided they couldn't wait any longer.

The rising cost of construction put Bryan in a difficult situation. The council had the option to reject the bids and take their chances back on the market. But that would have been risky business, so the council decided to bite the bullet.

Originally budgeted at $14.7 million, the council approved the low bid Tuesday of $17.7 million, but added in some changes that bring the price down to around $17.5 million.

But before they could decide whether to accept that bid, the council had to find a funding source, which turned out to be issuing debt on the project not to exceed $6.5 million. Back in 2004, the city issued $12 million of debt on the project. In both cases, those issuances are in the form of certificates of obligation.

City staff added that some capital improvement projects could see changes as a result, possibly including the widening project for FM 1179.

Nonetheless, councilmembers said getting this deal done now was the best option for the city.

"It's just time to either move forward or decide not to do the project at all," said Councilmember Jason Bienski. "If we were to wait any longer, it would just cost the citizens even more money to continue this project."

"The building we're in now was supposed to be a stop gap, a three-to-five year alternative until we could get it built," said Assistant Chief Freddie Komar with Bryan PD, "so yes, it's a very good night for the Bryan Police Department."

The facility will house the police department and the municipal courts, and will be located at the corner of 29th Street and Texas Avenue.

There were three options on the table for the council to choose from. The first was staff's recommendation, to accept the bid with those few minor deductions.

The other two options involved rejecting the bids. Either they could have rejected them and re-bid the project as it is, or they could have rejected and change the project to a police department only.

Of course, one of the big original points of the facility was to bring the courts and the PD back together. The current police department building also housed the municipal court when they originally moved into that converted bank back in the mid-1980s. Because of space issues in that facility, the courts had to move to another location in the mid-1990s.

The Bryan Justice Center will be more than 60,000 square feet. Completion will likely be in late 2007 or early 2008.