Construction of Liberty Township’s new township hall and administrative office is officially underway. On Wednesday, various township and county figures gathered at the South Liberty Park, next to the YMCA, for a groundbreaking ceremony and a brief overview of how the project took shape.
“One of the things that COVID has taught is that we need to start thinking about safety and operations together and not in different ways,” Liberty Township Trustee Bryan Newell told those in attendance. “We have a meeting space across the street that has served us well for many years, and at the time it was a great idea to combine functions, use one space, and save some money. That’s kind of always been the heart of Liberty Township, finding ways to save and do more with less.
“Unfortunately, with COVID, that’s kind of showed us that that model may not serve the public and our first responders the best. That was one of the many reasons we decided to undertake the study for this project. I’m happy to say that we found a solution to our COVID meeting space problem.”
Newell added the current township hall is the only meeting room in the township that will hold more than five people, and with the township continuing to grow, the new building will add “flexible meeting space” with rooms that can be divided for meetings being held simultaneously.
“This is going to offer us a place for Liberty Township to call home,” he said. “We’ve kind of been all over in the last two decades, with different functions scattered across the township. It’s not the most efficient for our business partners and our residents, but this is going to help us start to put a plan in place to offer a one-stop-shop location.”
Last May, when the trustees voted to approve a contract with McCall Sharp Architecture to design the new facilities, Newell was adamant the township’s funds to facilitate the project were already sufficient and no taxes would need to be raised. During Wednesday’s ceremony, Newell reiterated again that residents will not be burdened in any way by the new construction.
“I’m going to borrow a line from my youth, and that is, ‘Read my lips; no new taxes … We’ve put a lot of creative thought into this process, and I am very proud of what our staff, the county staff (has done), the Delaware County Finance Authority (DCFA) stepping up,” Newell said. “All of these partnerships have come together to allow us to do this without raising one penny of taxes on our residents.”
The ability of the township to fund the project has been aided by the formation of the loan fund established by Delaware County Treasurer Don Rankey and the DCFA, which includes a 10-year fixed interest rate of 1.75%. The strategic investment plan puts inactive county funds into a bond program to be used by governments at rates significantly lower than they would find in the public market, while also keeping those interest dollars in the county.
With new fire station and maintenance facility projects also being planned, Liberty Township became the first to take advantage of the program last year. Last June, during a trustees meeting announcing the township’s participation in the program, Newell said of the opportunity, “We’ll never, ever again have this kind of buying power at this affordability.”
Speaking during Wednesday’s ceremony, Rankey praised the leadership and teamwork of the group responsible for making the new township hall a reality. Rankey said Delaware County is in the best financial shape it’s ever been, which allowed for the creation of the DCFA bond program that has ultimately paved the way for the township upgrades.
“It’s a great day, and it’s really going to be a great time for Liberty Township,” Rankey said during the ceremony.
A press release from the township stated the expectation for the completion of the new township hall is at some point this fall.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.