HILL COUNTRY VILLAGE — City leaders “got the message” and are inviting public input regarding the fate of a 14-acre city-owned parcel after voters said no to commercial development.
The site will remain public land and could someday be a park or the site of a new City Hall, said Mayor Gabriel Durand-Hollis.
Known as Proposition B on the Nov. 5 special-election ballot, the measure would have opened up the tract along Bitters Road and South Tower Drive to development for commercial, retail, residential and/or mixed-use purposes.
The electorate defeated the measure with 62 percent of the vote.
“While there isn’t anything that I can announce, I can forecast what I think will be happening,” Durand-Hollis said. “There is going to be a lot of discussions at our upcoming meetings. We got the message from the voters. We will adhere to the restrictions on the land.”
He added, “It will remain used for municipal purposes. Whether or not that will be for a new City Hall or a public park or even something else, that really remains to be seen.”
City leaders continue to talk with residents about the next step.
During the Nov. 21 City Council meeting, a public hearing kicked off discussions on the future of the property.
“We have a series of decisions to make coming up on the property,” Durand-Hollis said. “There was some discussion undertaken (at the November City Council meeting), but nothing was decided. Even though the referendum occurred and we (in city government) got the message, there’s no funding set up for anything yet.”
Residents ultimately will decide what happens to the tract, he added.
“We’re going to need to go back to the voters at some point one way or another,” Durand-Hollis said. “Whether we decide to renovate (City Hall) in place, add and alter the existing building or build a new one. Then, if we build a new one, do we build it on its current site or on the Bitters Road property?”
Eyeing the site for a newly constructed City Hall has been discussed for years, officials said.
“(The next steps) we take on the land are really connected to what is going to ultimately be done with City Hall,” Durand-Hollis said. “If we renovate City Hall where it is, then that makes a difference on what we do with our remaining use for the land. It’s really an ‘if/then’ kind of decision.”
Durand-Hollis added the process to determine what the city will use the land for will be lengthy and take months.
He promised “due diligence” at every step.