Fort Bend County commissioners approve purchase of plot for sheriff station
A feud over the best location for a Katy-area substation, which pit the sheriff against a county commissioner, has come to an end after the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of a parcel of land.
The 18,000-square-foot substation was approved by voters in a 2015 facilities bond, but a debate over where it would go caused a rift between Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner W. A. “Andy” Meyers and Sheriff Troy Nehls, who each proposed different plots for the facility, including one that Meyers said would have been donated to the county.
But on Tuesday, after more than a year of debate, commissioners voted to approve a purchase of roughly 3 acres of land for the substation in the Fulshear area on Flewellen Way at the northwest intersection of Farm-to-Market roads 1463 and 1093. The vote, which had the sheriff’s blessing, brought to a close a feud that had riled voters and county officials alike.
The purchase, which is subject to a final review and approval from the County Attorney’s office, “has been a long time coming,” Meyers said. “This annex will be an anchor and important presence in the growing community for decades to come.”
The $4.3 million substation, which is now scheduled for completion in 2020, will house the sheriff’s office and will include space for the fire marshal and for public health officials, he said, noting that he will work to expedite the construction.
Tuesday’s vote brought praise from Commissioner Vincent Morales who said the sheriff facility has been “needed in that area for quite some time.”
The intersection at Farm-to-Market roads 1463 and 1093 is the “second-most traveled and most important in the north part of Fort Bend County” and provides the public and emergency personnel with easy access to all parts of the county, Meyers said.
“As a matter of fact, initially the sheriff had put out in 2015, that this was his preferred location,” Meyers told the commissioners court. “We’re basically following through with what our sheriff initially had indicated that he thought was the best location.”
The property is one of several locations approved by Nehls following the 2015 vote for the substation, said Maj. David Marcaurele, the Fort Bend County’s chief deputy.
“We are pleased that this project is finally moving forward,” he said. “There has been much delay since the initial location advocated by Commissioner Meyers was not suitable for the purpose of a sheriff’s substation.”
Meyers had originally suggested placing the facility on donated land near a major retail center at the same intersection just east of the recently approved spot. But last May, Nehls objected to it, stating that because it would share a parking lot with Walmart, it was “not conducive to our mission in providing law enforcement services to the area.”
Nehls said he would decline to the staff the substation if the commissioners moved forward with the location proposed by Meyers. Instead, he said, the sheriff substation should be located a couple of miles south of Meyers’ proposed location at the same intersection.
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Both men agreed that the intersection, which is a gateway to the cities of Katy, Simonton, Fulshear and the neighborhoods of Firethorne, Cinco Ranch Southwest, Westheimer Lakes and Cross Creek Ranch, was the prime location for a sheriff substation.
Costing about $12 a foot, the purchase of the 2.8 acres of land for the sheriff substation was not cheap, Meyers told commissioners at a meeting Tuesday. The total cost is about $1.5 million.
“This is expensive property, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Anything along 1093 and 1463 runs anywhere from $15 to $18 a foot.”
The commissioner worked with a team to reconfigure the building in an effort to reduce the footprint, he said, adding that to get the same amount of building, they had to buy less property.
The substation was part of a $98.6 million four-part facilities bond package. One of the propositions, approved by 60 percent of voters, allocated $62.9 million to expand and renovate county buildings, including the Justice Center, the Medical Examiner’s building and the Sheriff’s office.
A state-of-the-art, $11.3 million sheriff’s administration building was completed in March.
“Going back to 2015, Sheriff Nehls and I promised the residents in the growing areas of Fulshear and Simonton that we would work to build the County public safety annex where the community wanted it most,” Meyers said.
Meyers said the soon-to-be-vacant rooms in the Katy Annex, which was opened about 10 years ago, would be up for grabs once the sheriff’s office relocates.