By Christine Bolaños
The Liberty Hill Development Foundation Board postponed discussion Tuesday on the transfer of ownership of Lions Foundation Park to the City of Liberty Hill.
City Manager Greg Boatright said this was due to timing and the plan is still for Liberty Hill to take over the park.
“One of the agenda items was to discuss the transfer of the Foundation Park to the City,” Boatright said. “What happened was it was a heavy agenda. They had several experts here from out of town that they had met with earlier in the afternoon and then they came to the meeting. (They) were talking about the relocation and the development of the sculpture garden.”
Those discussions took about an hour-and-a-half and the Board then decided to hold off on the Foundation Park agenda item.
“When all that wound down it was about 8:30,” Boatright said. “So they tabled the discussion to transfer the park over to the City until the next meeting.”
Boatright said this had only to do with time and no further negotiations are necessary.
“They assured me last night that everything’s been done that they asked of the City as far as in the contract making sure that the library and the Youth Baseball League has insurance that they’re going to be able to continue to have the use of the park,” Boatright said. “What we proposed to do in the agreement is to give both of those entities a 10-year renewable lease.
“Then there was the issue of the two acres and the maintenance of the sculpture garden and the funding — that was the key issue they wanted reassurance on,” Boatright added.
This had all been taken care of prior to the meeting Jan. 5.
At its meeting Dec. 17, the Liberty Hill Economic Development Corp. Board approved $93,500, excluding the cost of an appraisal, to move the world-renowned sculptures from Liberty Hill Intermediate School to Lions Foundation Park. The City’s total cost is about $100,000 when the cost for the appraisal is included.
Liberty Hill Development Foundation Secretary Larry Floyd, who oversees the care of the sculptures, presented a budget to EDC members last month, which covered all costs associated with relocating the 13 sculptures to two acres behind the fire station.
That budget included consulting and landscaping costs, concrete work, relocation, extension of a walking trail around the sculptures and a sculpture garden advocate. Boatright said this was the last action that needed to be taken before moving forward with the decision to transfer ownership from the Development Foundation to the City.
Foundation Board President Larry Nicholson clarified Wednesday that the Board was not trying to postpone making a decision. Tuesday’s meeting had simply lasted too long, and members agreed that postponing the discussion would be best.
“We’re not dragging our feet on this. I don’t want to leave the wrong impression,” Nicholson said.
“We are definitely moving forward with this (transferring ownership of the park to the City),” Nicholson added. “But we have no timetable for it. We’re trying to make sure everything is in order and know where we are going to e afterward.”
Nicholson said the security and permanent placement of the sculptures are the key to the change in ownership of the park.
“We want that (sculpture park) to be the focal point for Liberty Hill,” he said.
Nicholson said the Board has a vision for the design of the sculpture park that would make it and the city a destination for tourists from across the state and nation.
“So this is not something we are taking lightly, and we aren’t using into anything,” he said.
Nicholson said the discussion and possible action on the transfer will be at the top of the Board’s agenda when it meets Feb. 2.
“Everything has been addressed,” Boatright said. “All we’re waiting on now is action from the Foundation Board to vote to agree to transfer that to the City. Once they vote, then we’ll put it on the council agenda to accept the transfer. Then what we want to do once both board and council have taken action is to have a dedication of transfer at the park between both of the respective boards and have the media there.
“That’s a big deal for our community and for our City to have that asset,” Boatright said. “And for the City to have that as part of its park system. We want to make sure that the people associated with the Lions Foundation and with the Foundation Board are recognized for the asset that they have created and turned over to our city.”