By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
Additional improvements may be noticed around the City of Liberal in the fairly near future. The city commission approved city staff taking the next appropriate steps in the construction of a sidewalk north of 15th Street as well as Dorothy and munchkin statues to be randomly placed throughout the city.
Public Works Director Joe Sealey proposed Tuesday evening at the Liberal City Commission meeting that Earle’s Engineering and Inspection be hired to design, survey and develop bid documents for the proposed sidewalk on the east side of Kansas Avenue from 15th Street north to Tucker Road. Commissioners ultimately approved the hiring of Earle’s in the amount of $16,835, after an extensive discussion.
Commissioner Larry Koochel was under the impression city staff would be constructing the sidewalk to be mostly utilized by individuals in wheelchairs wishing to get to the Wal-Mart area.
“I think it’s completely a waste of money to spend $16,835 on building a sidewalk,” Koochel said. “This is not a structural project or anything like this. We are going to walk on it, we are going to ride a bicycle on it. With sidewalk layouts, our concrete crews have done a lot of that. I don’t see why we have to spend $16,000 to engineer this project.”
Due to the complexity of the project and the fact that city staff is already very busy with other projects, Sealey felt bidding out the project was what the commission would prefer to do.
“If we are not going to bid it, then it wouldn’t be necessary,” Sealey said. “You will have to forgive staff for making the assumption that you wanted to bid it. We have this great big pie to eat with chop sticks and we are going to have a hard time doing that.”
Commissioners understood the need for the completion of the project and that city staff is currently spread thin. With that thought in mind, commissioners agreed to hire Earle’s Engineering and Inspection to begin the process in the amount of $16,835 for the ultimate purpose of bidding the project out.
Economic Development Director Jeff Parsons presented the Dorothy Art Program to the commission and asked it approve the negotiation of a contract with LaFondFX of Commerce City, Colo., not to exceed $26,000.
“The primary purpose in the Dorothy Program is to serve the people of Liberal by making the city a more aesthetically pleasing place to live,” Parsons noted in his memo to the commission. “Staff wishes to expand on the magical experience of being Dorothy’s home by creative expression in public places of the city. Staff further recognizes the substantial economic benefits to to be gained in the form of increased tourism through enhancement of its public spaces and consequent retail activity throughout the city.”
Commissioners approved negotiating a contract with the Colorado company pending the approval of City Attorney Shirla McQueen.
The statues, parsons said, will be constructed out of concrete from a mold made by LaFondFX then taken to Yoder to be cast by an ornamental concrete company. The statues of Dorothy and munchkins will appear to be bronzed upon completion, City Manager Mark Hall said.