Brazos County Commissioners approve $1.8M property purchase from St. Joseph Hospital

The 11-acre property is located in St. Joseph Professional park in Bryan, just north of Briarcrest Drive on East 29th Street.
KBTX News 3 at Six(Recurring)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - New and improved services could make their way to Brazos County after Brazos County Commissioners approved the purchase of a property owned by St. Joseph Hospital on Tuesday.

The 11-acre property is located in St. Joseph Professional park in Bryan, just north of Briarcrest Drive on East 29th Street. The hospital sold the property to Brazos County for $1.8 million. Judge Duane Peters said he saw potential in the undeveloped space, specifically, a medical examiner’s office and a new emergency operations center.

To county used general funds out of the county’s budget to pay for the purchase, Peters said.

“We don’t really know what all we’ll use the property for and I don’t want to look back and say ‘well did that qualify for ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funds,’” Peters said. “By purchasing the property with general funds then we can use it however we need to use it that qualifies under zoning.”

Commissioners have discussed locations for a potential medical examiner’s office for some time. Peters said the county has worked with Texas A&M University throughout the process and originally had plans to build it at Texas A&M’s Health Science Center.

“The property we could have actually got A&M to donate to us there were some deeper veins that we would have to almost encroach on, and then we’ll have to build some retaining walls, and it was going to be a little difficult to get that done. And then we still would have property to do a 911 central dispatch if money becomes available.”

County commissioners discussed a 16,000-square-foot facility with the ability to perform over 400 autopsies a year. Estimates for the facility have been placed at $22.5 million, but the cost could be covered under ARPA, Peters said.

“My goal on this thing is to get us a medical examiner hired that’s not only qualified to be an excellent medical examiner but can testify in court cases,” Peters said. “I think it can open up to other counties that surround us that have the same issues that we do. I think it’s critical to the citizens of Brazos County.”

Peters said Texas A&M is looking for a medical examiner who could teach at the university’s health science center. Under the partnership, the university would reimburse the salary and benefits of the medical examiner.

“They’re aware that this property has become available and we felt like this is a good location and it could allow us to do other things,” Peters said. “We’re still moving forward with working out an education portion of the medical examiner’s office with Texas A&M.”

But on Peters’ priority list, constructing a new emergency management center is not at the top.

“It’s something that could happen, I think those discussions could place it on that property or there have been brief discussions about RELLIS and whether that might be the logical place to do it because the state is actually building some facilities for a regional EOC out there.”

Thinking of the families that would impacted, Commissioner Nancy Berry says it’s about time progress is made in the effort for a medical examiner’s office.

“It’s very exciting we’ve needed it, we’ve been sending our autopsy away, it’s an expense for the county and this will bring resolution to the families a lot sooner,” Berry said.

After the county receives the signed contract with the property in its name, Peters said the next step is moving forward with an architect. ARPA funds must be spent by 2026.

“I’m looking to getting some things done,” Peters said. “Government is always slow, this part of it has gone fairly fast, but I know again when you’re having to go through all the required purchasing laws it still takes time, so I’m looking forward to us to get moving on it.”