Gonzales County commissioners agreed Tuesday, Oct. 10, to have all occupants of the Gonzales County Annex vacate the property by Dec. 1 so work can be done to fix the severe structural issues at the building.
County Judge Pat Davis said a second engineering firm reviewed the building and its findings were almost identical to that of the first firm which looked at the building earlier this year.
“The building needs to be repaired probably as fast as we can and we probably ought to start getting those offices out of the building by December,” Davis said.
This will send some county offices scrambling to find temporary homes. For some, the fix will be easy. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension works closely with the Master Gardeners and is expected to be housed for the time being in their PACE (Plantatarium A Center for Exploration) building at 623 N. Fair St.
For others, such as the driver’s license office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Adult Probation and the Gonzales Central Appraisal District, they will have to find other accommodations.
“They’re saying it could take anywhere from eight months plus to make the necessary repairs,” Davis said.
Concerns about the building arose from large cracks in walls at the annex and missing pieces of concrete, which prompted Davis and county maintenance employees Scott McNabb and Brian Kloesel to meet with engineering firms out of Austin and Victoria to determine what was taking place and causing the building to deteriorate rapidly.
“Both of the engineers said this structure should have lasted for 150 to 200 years,” Davis said. “They've both come to the conclusion that there’s probably a chemical reaction inside the concrete and that it was not poured right at the time (the construction contractor) was doing it because they said the wall, that they both seem to have that type of mentality because they said wall is falling, and it's deteriorating from the inside out.
“Both of the engineers are saying that, with winter coming on and it is going to be wet, you're going to get expansion and contraction that will cause more problems,” Davis said.
Davis said the county has been told of three options to repair the building.
“The front wall and the rear wall are load-bearing walls, while the side walls are not load-bearing walls, but they're there,” Davis said. “The three ways to fix it would be to shore up the front and the back and the walls would have to be torn down. And then you can go back with a brick structure or some type of stone structure, or you can go back with a metallic outer finish or you can do some type of stucco, and I don’t want any stucco.”
McNabb said they should begin moving offices as soon as possible and that with the Ag Extension office, “that’s probably going to be our easiest move.”
“We already have a location that if we can use that we can go ahead and start getting their stuff out and begin moving them,” McNabb said.
Davis said the Appraisal District is looking at the former Spectrum building, which is located next to the Robert Lee Brothers Jr. Library on Saint Joseph Street.
The driver’s license office and DPS would likely move in together and the county has been speaking to Gonzales ISD about the possible use of the former administration building (red brick structure) at the intersection of Waelder Road and Sarah DeWitt, Davis said.