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July 31st, 2021

brad beer city commissionPublic Grounds Director Brad Beer talks to the Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening regarding some recent vandalism in some of the city parks and other areas. Beer asked if there would be any way for the city to help prevent further vandalism from happening. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Liberal City Commission had a busy evening at its most recent meeting Tuesday evening. Up first for the commission was discussion of Resolution No. 2358, which concerns calling for a public hearing for the creation of a  CID from Venture Kansas LLC. 

“We have Venture Kansas LLC, the new owners of Liberal Plaza, which is where the Walmart used to be, as well as Westlake Ace Hardware and the other three vacant spaces,” Economic Development Director Cindy Wallace said. “They have come to ask if we could work on a Community Improvement District. This will be our fifth of sixth Community Improvement District in the community, and it’s a financing tool that will help developers to come in and be able to things like this. There’s no money involved from the City, and the City will actually get a small administrative with it. I was just wanting to make sure it’s emphasized this doesn’t have anything to do with the City spending any money, it’s all on the developer and the people who shop at these businesses. They’re asking for a 1 percent increase, and it’s a $2.5 million. They’ll be working on improving the parking lot, the roofing, the HVAC units, the façade, streetlights, signage – you name it, they want to do improvements to it, and it’s looking to be a large project. This is to call for a public hearing, which, if approved, we’ll set it for July 13.”

“This sounds like a win,” Liberal Vice Mayor Tony Martinez said. 

Ultimately, the commission approved the hearing, which will take place during the commission’s July 13 meeting, which will start at 5:30 p.m.

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Up next for the commission was discussion of Resolution No. 4557, concerning a Special Use Permit for a skating rink. 

“The property owners are wanting to take the old Schwanns building and turn it into a community skating rink,” Director of Building and Code Enforcement Kevin Kirk said. “The Board of Zoning Appeals had a hearing May 13 and at that meeting, that application for a Special Use Permit for a skating rink was reviewed, approved and recommended to go before the Liberal City Commission for approval. There was no reason this shouldn’t go through, at least in their eyes, since it met all the qualifications.”

“It’s been a long time since we had a skating rink,” Martinez said. “And I’m assuming this is currently a draft drawing of what the owners want to do and not the actual full plans or anything like that?”

“That is correct,” Kirk said. 

Ultimately, the commission voted to approve the resolution. After that discussion, the commission also approved another pair of change orders for the ongoing 2nd Street reconstruction project and then moved on to discussion of a Change of Use Order for the former Weatherford property, as it was sold to USD 480 in the past. 

“I think we’ve already cleared quite a bit of this, but this has to do with the school district buying the old Weatherford building. The original lease said it was for oil field services, and we have to do the Special Use Permit or a Consent to Change of Use,” Liberal City Manager Calvin Burke said. “It’s a routine deal, otherwise that building just sits empty and goes back on the market.”

“And just for the benefit of the public, the difference between the two is the Special Use Permit is more temporary, and the Consent to Change of Use will be a permanent to the way it’s used,” Liberal Mayor Taylor Harden said. 

“I’ll go back to be extra sure the FAA approval is there, but as long as everyone has signed the necessary documents, you are more than authorized to sign everything as well,” City Attorney Lynn Koehn added. 

Ultimately, the commission approved the Consent to Change of Use, and then finished the meeting’s new business by approving the acceptance of a private donation of $12,720 and then using that donation to purchase tables and chairs for the Mary Frame Park building and the Blue Bonnet Community building.

After that, Public Grounds Director Brad Beer shared some concerns with the commission regarding some recent vandalism during the Items from Staff portion of the meeting. 

“We’ve had some vandalism recently going on in our parks and some other areas – I mentioned to Cal how last Friday, the bathroom in Mary Frame Park got vandalized,” Beer said. “They tore down the divider panels, the tore the lids off, they just absolutely trashed the place. I can’t help but feel like the best option is to lock them up because I don’t have it in my budget to go in, and I don’t have the manpower to fix these things every time these people tear things up. We’ve also had vandalism at the skate park. On Memorial Day, I had vandalism at the cemetery – I got a call Saturday, someone had dumped black paint all over a headstone and we got together a police report and everything and we were able to get it mostly cleaned off. I don’t know if that’s the best way to get it across to the citizens if you see someone doing that, let the police department know. We can’t put cameras everywhere, and we can’t afford to go in and fix all of that all the time. And it’s taxpayer money that’s being used to make those repairs. This stuff’s got to stop. I remember at Rosel Field last year, we redid all of that – we put in new doors, new toilets, new sinks, new everything, and then not even a week later, it was trashed, so that’s had to remain locked up. I don’t understand tearing something up that bad that they might need to use sometime soon.”

“I’m not sure if this needs commission approval, but I would say let’s plan on locking those bathrooms up at night from now on,” Harden said. “The flip side of that, though, is we’d have to decide who would be in charge of that since city staff isn’t on duty anytime that late. You would think our species would be evolved enough to leave burial sites alone and not desecrate them, and you’d think people wouldn’t vandalize public restrooms knowing the repairs are going to come out of their tax dollars. It needs to stop.”

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