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Comprehensive Plan continues

By Marissa E. Lane, Staff Writer

The town of Liberty has not had a comprehensive plan in half a century, but that's slated to change.

After receiving a grant from the Office of Rural and Community Affairs (OCRA), the town of Liberty has hired Dan Lake of Kieser Consulting Group and assembled a steering committee of community representatives to help draw up the plan. The planning committee's first public meeting was last Thursday, April 5.

“I think it's important for all communities to do some sort of planning,” said Lake. “That way they can stay on track for progress.”

Having a comprehensive plan, in particular, is helpful because it gives communities an edge in applying for competitive state and federal grants. Some won't even allow a community to apply if they don't have a plan.

Despite not having a comprehensive plan since 1968, Liberty is in a fairly ideal place to work on one now: the town has prioritized routine maintenance on its existing infrastructure and equipment, meaning the plan can focus on improvement and expansion rather than repair.

Areas for improvement brought up at the meeting included the desire for a park within town limits, sidewalks for kids who walk to school from Patriot Pointe Apartments, expanding housing, marketing the school district and finding ways to improve internet speeds and lessen the cost. Lake expects more to come in via the online survey that will be sent out in the next two weeks, as most of his feedback comes from surveys rather than public meetings now.

“I think what we need to ask is how can we provide good services and continue?” said Matt Barnhizer, Liberty Town Council member, steering committee member and volunteer firefighter.

According to Lake, no part of the plan can go into too much detail just because it covers many areas and both short-term and long-term goals. Luckily, Liberty is already having a housing study done by Purdue University, which will be used to supplement the plan as well. He suggests that the town look at the plan at least every five years to see what they've accomplished, what still needs to be done and what needs changed.

“The biggest asset we've got is our people,” said town council member Roger Bowling.

Lake will be setting up the survey before the end of April, and it will be available online and in hard-copy at the Union County Public Library for approximately two weeks. The link will be posted on the Union County Development Corporation's Facebook page as well as the Liberty Herald. Another public meeting will be held following the survey.