Liberty City Council canvassed election results and swore in two new members and a returning councilman and mayor at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 10. New to the council are Ed Seymour and Tommy Brents, who won two of the three at-large seats on council during the May 7 election. The third seat went to J.L. “Chipper” Smith, who won reelection. Mayor Carl Pickett also was reelected to a new two-year term.
The swearing-in ceremonies for the new and returning councilmembers and mayor were officiated by 75th State District Judge Mark Morefield, standing in for Municipal Judge Mike Little. In one of their first acts as a new council, they voted to rename Councilwoman Diane Driggers as the mayor pro tem.
Council was updated by City Manager Tom Warner on the $2.312 million citywide street rehabilitation project that kicked off in late April. The contractor – Vulcan Materials, Asphalt and Construction – has already finished several streets and expects to complete the entire project by August, weather permitting.
An overlay of new asphalt has been applied to Avenues D, E, F, G, H, I and J, off of Layl Drive, and Westwood, Independence and Lincoln street are slated to be finished next week. The work schedule has a tentative start date of late May to early June on Beaumont, Pleasant Hill, Melonson, Minglewood, Chesson and Tanner streets, with all slated to be finished by mid-June.
In mid-June, street repairs will be performed on CR 1660 and Still Meadow and Black Oak streets, with Hough, McManus, Sandune, Fort Worth, Confederate, Tennessee, Carter and Santa Anna streets. N. Travis, Heights and Monta are slated to begin at the end of May with the completion dates set for August.
Warner also updated Council on the renovations to the Liberty Municipal Golf Course. He said that grass sprigging is still underway and will need a minimum of eight weeks after sprigging before the course is playable. The 120-acre golf course, which has undergone a $2.88 million renovation to improve greens and sand traps, add cart paths, and install new irrigation and drainage systems, and add a new bathroom facility, originally was expected to open in January but issues have arisen with sodding and sprigging the grass.
Warner also gave an update on repairs to the splashpad at the municipal park.
“We had problems with two valves and the control panel,” said Warner, adding that the goal is to have the splash park open before Memorial Day, May 30.
On the weekend before the council meeting, the City shut down its municipal electrical grid while a new switch was installed at the Liberty Substation. This was necessary to ensure worker safety due to the proximity of high voltage lines in the substation. City Councilwoman Libby Simonson lauded Warner and City staff for managing the repairs quickly, thus shortening the amount of time that Liberty homes and businesses were without power during the two days of repairs.
Warner said the new switch should prevent future outages and is intended to harden the system. During the outage, some minor improvements also were made to the electrical system that supplies power to PTC (formerly Boomerang Tubing).
In a 6-1 vote with Councilman Tommy Brents voting against it, Council approved a resolution creating the Liberty Ranch Public Improvement District. Liberty Ranch is a new subdivision that is being built on a 51-acre tract on SH 146 north near the new Liberty County Law Enforcement Center that is under construction. A public improvement district allows a portion of the taxes collected within the District to be used to pay for improvements. Waterstone Development Group, LLC, is developer of Liberty Ranch.
As part of the arrangement, Waterstone Development Group, LLC, will pay $35,000 to an escrow account to be used to cover expenses the City will incur for professional services in the PID creation. The Council also authorized the hiring of a third-party PID administrator, P3Works, LLC, for the Liberty Ranch PID.
The next regular meeting for Liberty City Council is at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, June 14. Council meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at the council chambers inside city hall.