Parks Board considers larger restroom facility for City Park

The City’s Parks & Recreation Board voted Tuesday to authorize member Elizabeth Branigan to consult with her son, a local builder, about the costs of constructing a restroom facility at City Park.

Ms. Branigan, who offered to take a drawing to her son for his opinion, did not vote on the matter and noted that her participation in the dicussion could be considered a conflict of interest under the City’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.

“If you want to choose him, I’ll leae the room and you can vote,” she told the Board. “It’s not ethical for me to vote.”

Ms. Branigan’s son is Jon Branigan, owner of Drennan Day Custom Homes in Liberty Hill.

Although she abstained from voting, Ms. Branigan did not leave the room.

Utilizing funds from a Williamson County grant, the City plans to build a restroom at the park on CR 200 and connect it to the City’s wastewater system. In previous meetings of the Parks Board, the group agreed that it appeared less costly to construct a pre-fabricated restroom. 

A new design brought to the Board’s attention Tuesday by Board member Deborah Soja was about 100 square feet larger and included more stalls and a dressing area. 

In making the motion to seek Branigan’s advice, Parks Board member Michael Wilson said Branigan was not bidding on the construction, just offering his opinion as to whether the design would fit within the City’s budget for the project. 

Also Tuesday, Ms. Branigan told the Board that she had consulted with someone who offered to design a water feature at City Park that she described as an interactive reflecting pool that would drain into a retaining pond, which could be used to irrigate the football and soccer fields.

Wilson, president of Liberty Hill Youth Football & Cheer — one of two youth sporting groups that disagree with the City’s decision to charge them for watering at the park – reminded Ms. Branigan that irrigation systems are currently in place and added that “anything with water will be a hard sell to the City.” The discussion on the water feature ended without any action.

During the portion of the meeting where Board members are permitted to make comments on topics off the agenda, member Suzy Bates asked for an update on the ongoing conflict between the City and the youth organizations (LHYFC and Liberty Hill Youth Soccer Association) that are being billed for water use at the park. (See related Story)

Board Chairman Clay Cole said he had a meeting with City Manager Manuel De La Rosa and Mayor Michele “Mike” Murphy and advised that they should negotiate with the organizations that are leasing the city property to resolve the matter.

“There are a lot of bad feelings on wasting water over there when water is restricted in town,” added Ms. Branigan. ”It goes much deeper than dollars and cents. It grates on my neighbors who can’t water their apple trees.”

“They (De La Rosa and the Mayor) just need to work it out with these associations and we don’t need to battle it out in the papers,” Cole responded.   

In other matters Tuesday, the Board heard a presentation from Liberty Hill Boy Scout Dean Stouder who volunteered to make some improvements at the park as part of his Eagle Scout project. Stouder proposed to construct an awning over the player benches on the largest of the park’s soccer fields. He also proposed to build fencing around posts that currently divide the fields from the parking lot to keep soccer balls inside and players away from vehicles.