FREEPORT — City Council inched closer to potentially moving its chambers to the old bank side of the City Hall building after determining renovating a former elementary school into a new municipal complex wasn’t a viable option.

The cost of taking over the shuttered O.A. Fleming Elementary campus made it unfeasible, City Manager Tim Kelty said during a meeting earlier this month. Instead, at council’s direction, Kelty solicited bids from multiple architectural firms on repairs and renovations to place the municipal courtroom and council chambers at City Hall.

Kelty presented those recommendations to council Tuesday night.

Other renovations could include the addition of an adequate break room, bathrooms on the first floor, adding and removing walls and security enhancements.

Assistant City Manager Stephanie Russell said council can prioritize minor and “cosmetic” issues in the building, such as cleaning and remodeling the stairways and renovating the second-floor bathroom. The hired firm would address any structural changes.

The city ultimately hopes to move the council chambers and municipal courtroom from the Freeport Police Department to the 38,000-square-foot City Hall building to provide residents a more central location.

Council also “wants a city hall that residents can be proud of,” Mayor Brooks Bass said.

Also during the meeting, council granted a variance authorizing the sale of alcohol within the Arlan’s Market shopping center on South Brazosport Boulevard. A new Mexican restaurant in the center — Maria Bonita’s — had applied and was denied a TABC liquor license due to its proximity to Brazosport High School.

City ordinances prohibit businesses from selling alcohol within 300 feet of a church or school. The restaurant is 260 feet from the school, which is why a variance was needed.

Nick Irene is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0149.

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