The building facing North Main Street and the railroad tracks, next-door neighbor to Dorothy Fielder Park, will soon become the new, though probably temporary home of the Van Alstyne City Hall. That decision was one of two made at a specially-called meeting of the Van Alstyne City Council, held Tuesday night at City Hall.


All council members were present, with the newer ones at their first city council meeting since having been elected and sworn in. Those council members were Ryan Neal, Marla Butler, Robert Jaska, Lee Thomas and Suzon Crowell, with Mayor Steve Riley chairing his first meeting.


The agenda had only two items on it — the first about the possibility of city hall moving and the second regarding standard operating procedure on costs adjustments of the Shared Use Path approved by a previous council.


The agenda read, “Authorize the city manager to finalize negotiations and execute the lease of 144 and 152 N. Main Dr.” Riley said that this is a two-story building, with a separate address for the second story.


Mayor Riley said after the meeting that he asked interim City Manager Lane Jones a few weeks ago to begin searching for an alternate location to house City Hall. Jones, who is also aware of much of the decay and maintenance problems in the current City Hall building, worked quickly and provided the council viable information that helped them make the decision.


Jones told the council that the costs to repair the current city hall building are about twice the actual value of the building. The new building will require minimal costs to make it workable as a city hall, Jones said. There will be room not only to accommodate the public’s needs, such as paying water bills, obtaining building permits and such, but there is also room for council chambers and executive session meetings.


The owners, Aaron and Malia Schoenfeld, are working through Collin Flynn, and are offering the building for the remainder of this fiscal year without monthly charges. Rent will be $1,600 per month through the next fiscal year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30 of each year) and accelerate to reach $4,000 in 2023 fiscal year. With the new growth already in the realistic future, property taxes should accelerate accordingly.


This does not mean that the Van Alstyne City Council will not be making plans for a permanent City Hall location and structure. If that is done and the council moves out before the lease expires, there will be a penalty. It does take the pressure off the city council to make that decision sooner, in order to protect the health of the city staff members.


It isn’t a totally done-deal until Jones signs that lease agreement, but the council voted unanimously to authorize him to do that.


The council agreed on the second item unanimously, as well.


City Engineer Len McManus said the changes in construction prices have made this increase necessary because of rising costs during the interim between the original council approval and now. Some work has been accomplished on this, including such items as drainage ditch clearing and such. There is now about a $170,000 more cost to this work, but McManus said that the increase is only procedural, and that the city will only be paying the original price of $742,3068.65 as awarded at a March council meeting.


This Shared Use Path will connect the city park on Waco Street to the new elementary school, and will be open to the public.


The Van Alstyne City Council will meet again at 6:30 p.m. on June 12 at the Community Center. That agenda will be posted on the city’s website before close of June 8 workday, CityofVanAlstyne.us. It also posted on the glassed-in message board outside City Hall on N. Jefferson Street.