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Liberty voters will decide on $60M bond for community center upgrades, new activities facility

Liberty general obligation bond
Posted at 2:10 PM, Mar 14, 2024

LIBERTY, Mo — The City of Liberty gives off a small town feel.

In its 29 square miles, there's a strong sense of history, but the city doesn't want to stay stuck in the past.

"The history has a value, but so does the future, and we need to respect both the history and future," said Gieselle A.B. Fest, a Liberty resident.

The future she's referring to includes asking taxpayers to pass a $60 million general obligation bond in April.

It would make significant upgrades to their community center and help fund construction of an activities center.

The new activities center would be 129,000 square feet with eight to nine basketball courts, a fitness center and more.

The current community center will get outdoor aquatics, including slides and a lazy river.

"We have things we need," A.B. Fest said. "This is an 'I want.'"

For those who do frequent the community center, which was built around 30 years ago, they want more.

"I've lived in this town for 20 plus years and I've seen a lot of the same stuff here," said Don Chaney, a member of the Liberty Community Center.

Chaney works out at the center four to five days a week so it didn't take long for him to decide he would vote yes on the upgrades.

​A.B. Fest is voting no partially due to an average increase of $20/month on property taxes.

"It's one less average meal," Chaney said. "The average meal is $15-20 bucks."

Ward three Councilman Kevin Graham believes recreation opportunities fall short in Liberty and the upgrades are well worth the price.

"Our latest numbers is around 2,000 kids in our basketball program that just ended," Graham said. "We don't have anywhere near the space for that."

A.B. Fest said too many people don't have the space in their budgets.

"They say the devil is in the details," she said.

Graham said the reality is people have to decide if it's worth it for them. Chaney is willing to find out.

"The proof is in the pudding," Chaney said.

The general obligation bond will expire in 20 years unless voters extend it.

Clay County passed a senior tax credit last year. Graham told KSHB 41 the city is working on finding relief for seniors who want to use the facilities.

For more information, the city has a Q&A on their website.