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Construction delays on Caldwell’s new city hall building continue to frustrate taxpayers, councilmembers

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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CALDWELL, Texas (KBTX) - Construction on Caldwell’s new city hall building has been stalled, and it’s a continued source of frustration for both taxpayers and city councilmembers alike.

It was a topic that was brought up on multiple occasions at Thursday night’s Caldwell City Council Candidate Forum hosted by the Republican Women of Burleson County. For some time, Caldwell citizens have been asking what’s being done and what it will take to finish it.

“We’re taking steps right now to definitely move forward,” Caldwell Mayor Pro-Tem Allan Willis said. “Sometimes we can’t always tell the whole story, and that’s frustrating, but we are moving forward at this present time.”

One of the candidates at the forum said the construction company working on the project recently filed for bankruptcy. None of the councilmembers KBTX spoke to Thursday could confirm or deny that, but right now the city is working with insurance companies before they can resume construction.

“Presently, it is in the hands of the TML insurance division,” Caldwell City Councilmember Kavon Novak said. “They are involved with helping us proceed with our next steps because of some damage it incurred during the ice storm.”

Novak says a big part of the reason council can’t be more forthcoming on what’s going on with the building’s progress is due to the direction they’ve been given by city attorneys about what they can and can’t say.

Shirley Smith is a candidate for one of the three open seats. She says completing the building would be one of her top priorities if elected.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Smith said. “It’s going to take some finesse by somebody who knows what they’re doing.”

Members of council say multiple weather events and COVID-19 have played a large role in the building delays, but they also say the experts they relied on let them down.

“As we progressed into the project, we listened to people who were experts in the field,” Novak said. “Could we have possibly sought different opinions? Yes, we could have, but we didn’t do that.”

There had been hopes at the end of last year that Caldwell’s new city hall would be completed by June. Willis says now he hopes it can be completed by the beginning of 2022.

“Hindsight is always 20-20,” Willis said. “Definitely, we’d be hiring a different contractor, of course, but we are going to move forward and get this thing complete.”

“The council is just as frustrated as the citizens are,” Novak said. “It’s not something where we sit in the council room and talk about how great it is that we’re frustrating all our citizens. We’ve always had healthy discussions on how we go to the next step with it. At this point, know that we’re working hard. But the big thing is be patient, and it will get done.”

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