Dog catcher out, Wold in

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 15, 2000

Dog catchers and historical renovation topped the agenda Thursday at the Austin City Council’s finance committee meeting.

Friday, September 15, 2000

Dog catchers and historical renovation topped the agenda Thursday at the Austin City Council’s finance committee meeting.

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One will be no more, the other – the old Wold Drug Store building – will be more like it once was.

Gary Granle, animal control officer for the Austin Police Department, told finance committee members, council members and city staff that he would like to resign "yesterday."

Police Chief Paul Philipp recommended the committee accept Granle’s resignation and allow the Police Department to eliminate the position, transferring its duties to the community service officers.

"It’s a win-win for everyone," Philipp said. "Gary gets the opportunity to go, we get additional CSOs."

Animal control is already a part of the CSO duties – who are not fully trained police officers; they assist, but don’t arrest – but with the departure of Granle, Philipp said it would become entirely the responsibility of the CSOs. This move will increase the year-round CSOs to two full-time and one part-time officer.

In other police news, Philipp is doing background checks on applicants for the three vacancies in the department, and he expects to bring a hiring recommendation to the council in October. If the three new police officers are hired by November, he thought they could be fully trained by the second week of January. Only then would the department be up to its full strength of 28.

When asked about the two additional officer positions he requested to bring the department to 30 officers for 2001, Phillip said he would prefer to hire those after the three are fully trained and he has filled the two vacant lieutenant positions internally.

Because of the shortage of police officers, the high school liaison officer won’t be able to assume his duties there until the end of this month, and the DARE program – which would normally start in November – has been pushed back until the new year.

Wold repairs

Not being pushed back until the new year is the restoration of the outside of the historic old Wold Drug Store. Purchased by the city almost a year ago for $65,000 as part of its move to renovate downtown – funds come from the city’s Tax Increment Finance District No. 10 – the city has so far not succeeded in attracting a buyer for the building.

City Administrator Pat McGarvey recommended the city invest in tuckpointing and restoring the outside of the building, both to prevent further deterioration and to attract more buyers. Costs for fixing the north and east exterior walls were estimated at nearly $47,000.

"When we originally identified TIF No. 10, the Wold Drug Store was considered the cornerstone of downtown," at-large council member Dick Chaffee said. "That was the building I think was the priority to save vs. knock down."

When concerns about recouping the city’s investment in the building were expressed, Tom Dankert, director of administrative services, explained that the TIF district funds have to be spent either on restoration in the downtown or to pay back the bond sale. He added that the city is required to spend some non-TIF dollars in order to satisfy the conditions of the TIF district.

"Putting $50,000 or $60,000 into that building of your own monies would satisfy that condition up front," he said.

Work on the restoration will be done by Karr Tuckpointing and is expected to be started this fall. The city is accepting proposals for the building from interested buyers until Sept. 29.