Liberty Hill Parks Board proposes budget for new fiscal year

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By Madison McVan

The Parks and Recreation Board of Directors finalized their 2017-2018 budget and discussed their priorities regarding future changes to the parks during their meeting Tuesday.

The Board increased the budget for Sponsorships, Landscape and Grounds Maintenance and Capital Projects for the next fiscal year. The Board voted to increase both the Sponsorships and Capital Projects budgets from $10,000 to $20,000, and increase the Maintenance budget from $30,000 to $50,000.

Parks and Recreation was the first city department to finalize a budget proposal, which will be considered by City Council when it meets in budget workshops later this summer. The City budget must be adopted in September as the fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

As of Tuesday, the Parks Board had only spent 11.49 percent of its $564,300 budget for the current fiscal year.

“You guys have money to contribute toward the projects that you feel strongly about,” City Administrator Greg Boatright told the Board this week.

The Board spent the majority of the meeting discussing its priorities for the parks in order to develop the Parks Master Improvement Plan. Representatives of Halff Associates, the firm contracted by the City to create the plan, attended the meeting.

Many of the immediate priorities are for City Park on County Road 200. In June, concrete was poured at the main entrance and currently a chain-link fence along CR 200 is being installed. Boatright said the fence should be finished in the next couple of weeks.

Phase One of improvements to City Park includes a running/walking trail in the park, but a planned expansion of County Road 200 that could affect water drainage is delaying progress on the project. The trail is expected to be about a mile long, and the Board plans to install lights along the path.

“The trail adds so much to our park overall,” Boatright said. “One of the things that kind of stopped us before was surveying and drainage, and it still may be an issue with what the County decides to do with County Road 200, but I think that we’ll be able to move forward together.”

Better turf on the soccer field, a picnic area, more trash cans and restrooms, a larger pavilion, more playground equipment and improved parking are also included in Phase One of the improvements to City Park.

Phase Two includes plans for a swimming pool, splash pad and pool house with restrooms.

Wetzel Park is the second park on the priority list. Wi-Fi expansion, a picnic area, benches, fencing and a striped parking area were some of the top priorities listed by the Board in Phase One. Other possible amenities, in Phase Two, include more parking, a playscape and splash pad.

The priorities were determined based on community input, much of which was gathered through surveys.

“At Wetzel, restrooms, a pavilion and water fountain, those were some of the things that when we surveyed the cyclists that come through town, those were some of the suggestions they made,” Board Chair Mary Lynn Jones said.

Other future plans include obtaining additional land for the park on Stubblefield Lane and building a dog park, building a natural playground or picnic area in Central Park, and improving connectivity between all of the parks.

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