Williamson County prepared for legal battle over homeless hotel

The vote to purchase a Northwest Austin hotel last week by the city of Austin was done with "callous disregard," said Williamson County Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long Tuesday afternoon.

The disappointment voiced by county officials was used to justify a vote to hire outside legal counsel that may be used to take Austin to court.

"It’s important to understand every decision has an action and reaction," said County Judge Bill Gravell before the vote was taken.


The city intends to convert the Candlewood Suites hotel, located on Pecan Park Boulevard in the Williamson County part of Austin, into a homeless shelter and resource center. Commissioners made it clear that they are not authorizing a lawsuit to stop that repurposing, yet. 

"I called the mayor of the city of Austin and we finally set up a time to talk. It’s not a big stick approach, it’s just a reminder that we all have to work together in our community and in our family but let me make it clear: Williamson County will use the resources necessary to make sure that our voice is heard," said Judge Gravell.

Residents and business owners on Pecan Park at the Commissioners Court meeting said they feel ignored by the city and wanted a strong statement from the county.

RELATED: Dozens protest proposed purchase of hotel to house the homeless

"I’m never a fan of war but I do support the county in its endeavors. I would rather it not come to a lengthy court battle. None of us ever wanted a court battle," said Pecan Park resident Stephanie Goodman.

Images from a security video may be the reason for not immediately going to court. The video obtained by FOX 7 shows county leaders giving an informal tour of the site Monday to Austin City Council members Ann Kitchen and Mackenzie Kelly.

RELATED: Austin buys hotel to transform into supportive housing for homeless

On Tuesday, Long invited more city leaders to do the same. "I will meet you there, the judge will meet you there, to show you there is nothing like seeing it," she said.

Those who operate the businesses near the shelter site are frustrated that only a few city leaders have accepted the invitation. "My only hope is this all can be avoided they can start having conversations with businesses and residents all of us together," said Rupal Chaudhari who manages a business next to the proposed shelter.

The fear is what has happened around the ARCH in downtown Austin will eventually happen along Pecan Park.

RELATED: Williamson County wants 180-day pause on Austin’s homeless hotel plan

"I’ve had somebody say to us, oh you just want the homeless to sleep on concrete, no we don’t. But you’re making a generalization and that’s what’s getting out there more so than the specifics, and the numbers and the location and the fact if you go through the city agenda and look at all the other location they are vastly different they’re not like this one," said Goodman.


Another move to get the attention of the city of Austin is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) will tour the hotel site. He plans to introduce legislation that would force municipalities to be more transparent regarding projects like the one on Pecan Park.