LIBERTY — As Liberty continues on the road to recovery after the stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus, there are several steps in place to continue this improvement.
Beginning May 4, Liberty City Hall will be open to the public 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with limited staffing. Online processes that have been developed during the stay-home order that will remain in place, and this is still the preferred method.
City Administrator Curt Wenson said the city leadership fielded feedback throughout the closure from all sides.
“However, when it comes to opening Liberty City Hall for limited hours Monday, we have not had any feedback,” he said. “We are still encouraging residents and customers to use the online resources that are already in place or that were developed in the closing of City Hall. It fact, those are still our preferred methods for conducting city business.”
Wenson said for those that come in to City Hall are encouraged to wear face masks and the city will have a limited supply of masks.
“We have also installed Plexiglas barriers at each customer counter and placed several free-standing sanitizer stations throughout,” he said. “As a staff, many city-hall based departments are going to continue to work in teams, alternating days that they work in City Hall and those who work remotely.”
Wenson said plans for other city facilities are still being worked on, including services and programs.
Currently, city parks and trails are open. On Monday, Stocksdale Park, which includes the dog park, disc golf course and trails will reopen as will the pickleball court on Withers Road and the tennis courts and skate park at Bennett. However, if patrons do not follow physical distancing guidelines, these amenities will close again.
The Liberty Animal Shelter will be open by appointment only.
With the Clay County Public Health Center occupancy restrictions and concerns with high touch facilities and amenities, the following facilities and amenities will remain closed for the time being: Liberty Community Center, including the Liberty Senior Center and Liberty Performing Arts Theatre; city playgrounds; basketball and sand volleyball courts in Liberty parks; and Capitol Federal Sports Complex of Liberty (formerly Fountain Bluff Sports Complex).
Mayor Lyndell Brenton said the city will continue to follow the directives set forth by the Clay County Public Health Center.
“Now, if we see infection rates go up and the hospitals become stressed,” he said, “those restrictions will come back. However, I am hopeful. I encourage people to ask themselves, 'are my actions a threat to anyone else?' If there is a chance for a negative impact, reconsider.”
Brenton said he also hopes that people may go above and beyond.
“If we all wear masks, not just employees in stores and practice that continued hand washing, we might be able to shorten these phases,” he said. “The fears run the whole gamut. There are those afraid of the potential to expose themselves to the virus and there are those who need to see a semblance of normal to be able to pay rent and have food on the table. One thing, though, is that we have learned to deal with unknowns. If we prepare correctly, we can mitigate the spread.”
Brenton said the county has a mapped-out plan that will eventually get back to normal.
“However, during this process, let's see if we can extend some grace to others,” he said. “Be patient as right mow, we are better when we take care of each other.”
He also praised the police, fire and hospital staffs for meeting the challenges of this time.
Council member Jeff Watt, who also owns a business in town too, said it will not be business as usual.
“I have seen businesses buying the gallon-sized containers of hand sanitizer, preparing for customers, but I can also understand there are people who still want to stay away from crowds,” he said.
Watt said people should stay up to date with the information being released from the health center.
“We all can help fulfill the mission and policies set forth by the center,” he said. “It's now part of our common sense to see that we all are doing our part with washing hands, physical distancing and being smart when we are out and about.”