During the September 26 Council meeting, Council members approved a measure signifying the first step toward an updated Animal Shelter. City staff will now work with an architecture and design firm to design the renovation and expansion of the shelter with an expected completion date of spring 2025.
“These important projects are not just brick and mortar; they are a way of keeping our promise to provide essential services, support our seniors, and ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dan Cogan. “These dollars will go even further with our improved AA+ bond rating which helped us secure a low interest rate - a testament of our strong commitment to fiscal responsibility.”
The updated Animal Shelter is just one of the City’s major projects planned to break ground in the new fiscal year. In August, the City Council unanimously approved the sale of $17 million in certificates of obligation to fund a new Central Fire Station, a renovated and expanded Animal Shelter, a fire training facility, a Parks/Senior Center, and the Parkwood Road extension. Certificates of obligation debt are similar to general obligation bonds in their usage and retirement, but do not require voter authorization and are not used for refunding debt.
With the City’s upgraded bond rating and the current interest rate market, the City was able to issue these without impacting the property tax rate. The cost of these much-anticipated projects will NOT affect the property tax rate and does not have anything to do with the upcoming HEB ISD bond election. The City and the school district are two separate entities.
Here’s some additional details about each project:
Central Fire Station and Training Facility: The current Central Fire Station is located at 1816 Bedford Road and is considered antiquated when compared to modern fire departments. For example, female and male firefighters do not have separate sleeping quarters as they would in a modern fire department. In addition, there are an inadequate number of restrooms and limited work out space. Once a new Central Fire Station is complete, the current property can be incorporated into the Bedford Commons Project, for future development.
The project will also include a storage facility for reserve apparatus and supplies, and a training room for fire department personnel to use. Fire Administration and Fire Prevention will also be located at the new Central Fire Station.
The training facility would serve Bedford Fire Department’s everyday training needs, instead of paying to use other training centers or having to travel a long distance out of town. This will allow Firefighters/Paramedics to use Bedford equipment during the training, train at any time that is convenient to the department and remain in our response area to avoid any delay in response. The facility would also provide the opportunity to train with our automatic aid partners and even host some regional training opportunities for other fire departments, who would use it for a maintenance fee.
The City is currently working with an engineering firm to determine if both facilities can be constructed on the 7-acre property the City owns at 2130 and 2140 L. Don Dodson Dr. across the street from the Police Department. Once the firm determines the feasibility of that location, it will be placed on a future City Council agenda for consideration.
Senior Center: Last spring, the City purchased the former Airport Area YMCA (3524 Central Dr.) building with the purpose of renovating it to become a stand-alone Senior Center. Parks staff is working with an architect on a preliminary design and the future Senior Center is expected to open summer 2024. Seniors will have a chance to provide their input and information about that opportunity will be released, when finalized.
Parkwood Drive Improvements: Parkwood Drive, between L. Don Dodson and Bedford Road, will be reconstructed to a two-lane roadway with a lane for parallel parking on the west side. Each side of the road will be landscaped (with trees) and five-foot sidewalks. Parkwood Drive borders the future Bedford Commons mixed-use development. Construction on Parkwood Drive is expected to begin before the end of 2023 and will be complete fall/winter 2024.
As these projects progress, more information will be released on the City’s communication channels.