City heads back to drawing board on downtown Wetzel Park

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The Liberty Hill City Council voted unanimously Monday to send the Wetzel Park improvement plans back to the engineers for changes after construction bids came in higher than anticipated.

“We received the bids for the project and there was one item in particular associated with the restrooms at Wetzel Park that really exceeded anything we had expected,” said City Administrator Greg Boatright. “The cleanest way is for us to reject the bids, do a redesign of that building and bring those costs down.”

The primary issue with the bids was the building that would house restrooms, and an equipment room, but since July, questions have also been raised about whether the park should include a skate park.

Currently, plans for the park include a splash pad, parking, bicycle racks and water station, and restrooms. There will also be shade structures bordering portions of the splash pad and anti-slip concrete decking around the splash pad to keep it cooler.

The splash pad includes various symmetrical sets of fountains on four lobes and sits on a site approximately 50-feet square. The fountains are controlled by push buttons for child activation.

The parking area is positioned on the north end of the site with two-way entrance on Loop 332 and entrance-only access on County Road 279.

The parking lot project at the police department was also bid with Wetzel Park, but Boatright said the City would move faster to get new proposals on the parking lot and keep that moving forward.

“We are going to move forward with the parking lot at the police department,” he said. “We feel like that project is under the $50,000 limit where we can go out and get three proposals on that and go ahead and move forward with that, but we’re going to wait for a proposal back from the architect on Wetzel Park to do a redesign.”

Boatright anticipates bringing parking lot options to council for approval the first meeting in September.

Police Chief travel question
An agenda item to approve the request for Police Chief Maverick Campbell to attend the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Orlando in October caused a bit of a stir regarding how the request came forward.

“Chief Campbell had asked me about this prior to moving him back underneath Greg (Boatright), so I brought this up,” said Mayor Rick Hall in proposing the issue to the Council. “I understand from speaking with Chief Campbell he has attended this the last two years. I also remembered there was something the Council put in place a few months ago, prior to me being elected, about getting approval for any out-of-state travel.”

Hall also mentioned that he believed other city staff had attended out of state training without clearing it through the council since the policy was adopted.

“I also want to make the comment that city staff has made out of state travel that to my attention has not been brought to council for approval, so I am asking that the council go ahead and approve this,” he said.

It was later clarified that only Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Lance Dean had traveled out of state, but the trip was not for training and was with the Williamson County EDC.

Council Member Ron Rhea showed his displeasure at how the travel issue was brought to the Council.

“You are still under our city administrator, you are reporting to him. Greg is your supervisor, right?” Rhea asked Campbell, who said yes.

“Have you gone to Greg in terms of asking about going to this?” Rhea followed up, and Campbell said at the time it came up he was still under supervision of the Mayor and brought it to Hall.

“I was informed at that time, before I was put under the city administrator, that he would have to talk to council about it. At that point and time I waited to hear back, but I sent an e-mail to the mayor who I was reporting to at that time and made the request.”

Rhea reminded everyone that the reason behind the rule last Spring was the abundance of training available in the state.

“As it’s been mentioned, a few months ago we voted that all the training, cross-pollination and networking you can get right here in the state,” he said. “That was one of the motivating factors behind all this.”

Campbell defended this particular training opportunity due to its scope.

“This is a broader, international training, with over 180 to 200 workshops for me to attend,” Campbell said. “It brings a lot of stuff back to my department that is part of the success we’ve had in our organization.”

It was also brought up that the training was part of Campbell’s contract, but it was unclear to council and city staff if the funds planned for training were for this particular opportunity or any training.

The Council voted to table the issue to check the contract wording and discuss the issue with Boatright prior to the next meeting.

Bricks for employees
The Council approved a measure placed on the agenda by Hall to honor city employees, elected and appointed officials who are veterans with a brick in Veterans Memorial Park.

“I think this is a good way for us to honor the veterans that are serving or have served, and are either on staff or an elected official for our town,” Hall said.

Those eligible include members of the Planning and Zoning, Parks & Recreation, and Economic Development Corp. boards, City Council and city employees.

A question arose regarding who would qualify, and Hall specified it would be only for those currently employed or serving.

Bricks are being sold for $50, with the proceeds going to cover the cost of the sculpture being carved of the kneeling soldier, to be set at the park’s entrance. Local artist Bob Ragan is currently working on the sculpture and hopes to have it completed this fall.

Purchasers have the option of three lines of text with 18 characters per line or three lines with 10 characters plus one of 14 graphic designs. The designs range from military service branch seals to the U.S. flag or first responders. To order a brick, call 512-778-5449 or stop by City Hall at 926 Loop 332.

Holiday schedule
The City’s holiday schedule for the next fiscal year was approved Monday, and includes 13 days. Days city offices will be closed include Labor Day, Columbus Day, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day and because Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, it will be observed Nov. 12.

The City will be closed Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Mike@LHIndependent.com

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