Straddling the line between Ellis and Dallas counties, the city of Ovilla is poised for continued growth. And to keep up with it, the city is planning for new municipal facilities that will be decided by the city’s voters.
Addressing a need to expand its office space, Ovilla has placed on the Nov. 5 ballot a package of five separate bond issues totaling $6.1 million that would allow for the construction of a new city hall and police department, as well as park, recreation and open space improvements.
Ovilla’s population stood at about 4,100 as of 2017, an increase of 700 over the last official census in 2010 and more than double the city’s population when the current city complex took its present-day form. Simply put, the city has outgrown its facilities.
“The police station was built by a homebuilder back in the 1990s, and city hall is much older than that,” Ovilla mayor Richard Dormier said. “In city hall right now we’re evaluating getting rid of our conference room and turning it into offices. All of our offices are full, but everyone makes do.”
To solve the city office crunch, council members earlier this year referred the bond propositions to the November ballot.
“What we started with was a committee to review our current situation and come up with an assessment of what they thought was necessary to help us run more efficiently or better,” Ovilla city secretary Pamela Woodall said. “We are obviously very crowded. It was time for us to reassess our situation and see what is best for us. This committee made a recommendation and took it to the council, and the council decided to let the voters make that decision.”
The first two propositions on the ballot are related. Proposition A would authorize the city to issue bonds worth up to $2.94 million for a new city hall, to be located on the southwest corner of Cockrell Hill Road and Westlawn Drive immediately north of the existing city hall. Proposition B, which is contingent on the first proposition being passed, would authorize a $130,000 bond issue to convert the current city hall into a community center.
Propositions C and D are also related and address the proposed new police department headquarters, which would be built next to the new city hall with a common entrance if voters approve both buildings. Proposition C asks voters to authorize a $2.22 million bond issue for a new police headquarters, with Proposition D seeking $130,000 to renovate the existing police department for use by the city’s public works department if Proposition C passes.
The final proposition requests approval of a $680,000 bond issue to improve park and recreation facilities. Those improvements include a pavilion, new restrooms and a snack bar, and a connected sidewalk trail that would circumnavigate the city park adjacent to the current city facilities.
“Every year when we have Heritage Day, we rent a tent that costs us a couple thousand dollars,” Dormier said. “We want to build a (permanent) pavilion to serve that same purpose and also to use for family events throughout the year. We also want to add a trail system to connect with Heritage Park, which is about a quarter-mile away.”
All five propositions also would authorize the levying of an ad valorem tax on all taxable property within the city to pay the annual interest on the bonds, and provide a sinking fund to pay the bonds at maturity.
“It’s pretty obvious, if you walk through the buildings, there is a necessity,” Woodall said. “But we have to let the voters decide on that.”
Early voting begins Oct. 21 in Ellis County and ends Nov. 1 in the lead-up to the actual Election Day polling on Nov. 5.