City focuses on partnership with TxDOT
By Christine Bolaños
City of Liberty Hill officials want to focus on transportation development as the community continues to grow, and believe a strong partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation is key.
The first item on the city’s agenda is the possibility of funding intersection improvement projects throughout Liberty Hill. One project that City Administrator Greg Boatright mentioned at a previous meeting with The Independent was the possibility of adding a right turn lane at the intersection of Ranch Road 1869 and State Highway 29.
“The success that we’ve seen in other communities that are in similar situations as we are, the partnering is key to getting some of these projects funded and completed,” Boatright told council members at Monday’s regular meeting during his administrative report.
Boatright said Sally McFeron, the city’s senior planner, had a productive meeting with representatives from TxDOT recently.
“Sally had a really good meeting with TxDOT about the County Road 200 project,” he said. “The loop alignment at the intersection of County Road 279 will be a part of that project. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a dedicated left turn there and alleviate some of the back-up problems we’re experiencing at that intersection.”
City staff plans to meet with the Economic Development Corporation board this week to discuss downtown projects.
“We want to partner on specifically the drainage areas, the drainage study,” Boatright said. “We’re going to visit with them also about the intersection at County Road 279 and the Loop.”
He said he is also planning a discussion on downtown parking issues.
“We are trying to push forward on the downtown sidewalk project,” Boatright said. “Sally and Jim (Bechtol) had a meeting with TxDOT this week to discuss with them what they want to see as far as our plans for the downtown sidewalks.”
Drainage in particular is on TxDOT’s right-of-way and requires a working relationship.
“Between Myrtle and 1869,” Boatright said. “So, hopefully, we’ll get a clearer picture of that.”
Once they know what TxDOT’s requests are, Boatright said the city will be able to move forward on those projects.
He said city staff reached out to Williamson County representatives to get a feel for the level of interest in acquiring two acres adjacent to downtown.
“They use it for storage,” Boatright said. “They recognize that it does not fit in with what we’re trying to do here in Liberty Hill. I think they’re very open to discussing the possible sale of that to the city.”
The two acres are critical to downtown, he said, especially when it comes to drainage.
“In that area behind the county property that extends over to the two residents (who) are immediately to the west,” Boatright said. “And then the Fellowship (Church) properties.”
If the city can acquire that land then city staff would be able to correct drainage issues, he said.
“And then utilize the rest of the property for parking, perhaps facilities for the future,” Boatright added.
He said Mayor Connie Fuller is setting up a meeting with Bechtol and local veterans to discuss Veterans Park and make positive changes to the area.
“This is a very intrical part of downtown,” Boatright said. “It’s right in the center. If we’re going to be caretakers of that then we want to do a good job with it.”
He said the city is arranging for an arborist to take a look at trees at the park, which may need additional care.
In other business:
• Kevin Roberts provided an update on code enforcement activities. He said he works an average of seven inspections a day. He said most property owners comply with code enforcement.
• Interim Police Chief Jeff Ringstaff informed council he is taking the incoming chief on a tour of the city during the police department’s report. Maverick Campbell is meeting with business owners and other city representatives. “We’re meeting as many people every day as we can,” Ringstaff said. Next up is the school district.
• Council unanimously approved creating Liberty Parke Public Improvement District (PID) within the City of Liberty Hill. The council members also authorized a contract and agreement between the city and county and a dissolution agreement for the Liberty Parke Subdivision PID.
• Council green-lighted a change order to the South Fork Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion. This includes deleting pavement, removal of existing fencing, deleting fence gates, a yard hydrant and more from the order.
• Council member Wendell McLeod asked the council to approve a Rainy Day Fund, or emergency savings, for the city. The rest of the council members opted to table the item until further information is available.
• McLeod also asked the council to approve planting crepe myrtle trees in the green space at the intersection of Loop 332 and State Highway 29. The council authorized Boatright to negotiate with TxDOT on a landscape easement in the green space.
• Council authorized Boatright to sign a conflict letter waiver for Natasha Martin related to U.S. Water Services Corporation c/b/a USW Utility Group v. City of Liberty Hill, and to send the letter to Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, PC. The item was discussed in closed session. Action was taken once the council came back into open session.