Plans for a new Liberty County Health Department are taking shape.
David Holton, vice president for James Buckley and Associates, showed a concept for the new health department building, which will be built on Highway 84 near the National Guard armory. It will replace the current structure on Highway 84 in Flemington.
“There are a lot of tight spaces in that building,” Holton said. “You outgrew it a long time ago. There is no room to move.”
The county bought more than 6 acres of land off Highway 84 in December 2022 to make room for a new health department.
Under the plans, the 44,000 square foot building will have about 120 parking spaces, mostly to the sides and to the rear of the building, and 12 handicapped parking spots.
Inside the building will be room for WIC Clinic, family planning, environmental health, child medical services, a care center and a classroom and support areas for the health department staff.
As architects met with health department staff, the building’s size grew from 32,000 to 36,000 to 44,000 to accommodate its current needs and handle potential growth. The current building is 33,000 square feet and was opened in 1980.
“We’re trying to build some future into this,” Holton said.
Holton said the exterior of the building will have a similar look to what the firm did with the library. He said the idea is to push the building as close as possible to the frontage. While traffic coming in from Highway 84 will have to exit at a right turn only on 84, the design calls for an exit only access onto Layton Street, allowing traffic to turn left at the traffic light at Layton and Memorial Drive.
The plans also show a driveway going around the building, which Holton said could come in handy in case there is another mass vaccination event.
Holton said architects looked at the pros and cons of a two-story building but a single-story would be more efficient. Also, he said, the department’s services need to be on a ground floor so its clients aren’t on elevators or taking stairs.
Now that the firm has a clear direction on the site and the look of the building, bids for construction could go out as early as February, Holton said.
“It’s going to be nice,” Commissioner Connie Thrift said.