WEST LIBERTY – The West Liberty Historical Society Town Hall Committee has been working on the goal of restoring the Town Hall Opera House – the second story of the Town Hall. This area was originally opened in 1869 and hosted many events ‘til sometime in the late 1950s. Our goal is to provide a focal point for the community which will again host plays, musicals, magic shows, recitals, meetings, and family events such as weddings and reunions.
An explanation of the West Liberty Historical Society plans concerning the Town Hall first floor renovation:
1) The renovation of the town hall first floor is scheduled to be completed by the end of September, 2015. This does not include the former Village Office at the West End of the building. That area is to be addressed as part of Town Hall Renovation Phase III (the second floor & access).
2) To receive a certificate of occupancy from the State Building Dept. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility is required. To achieve this a new sidewalk with at least 5’ x 5’ flat pads at each of the public doorways is required. Also these requirements include maximum slope for ramps to those pads & to the required ADA parking space.
3) There are three (3) downspouts on the south side of the Town Hall that currently discharge on the surface. Two are on the Town Hall & the third downspout is between the Town Hall & the newer Fire Dept. building. The runoff from these needs to be directed away from the Town Hall building foundation & also needs to be directed away from the surface. I know of one instance in which a person fell & broke a leg because of ice on the pavement by the Fire Station.
4) The Historical Society has been tasked by both the Village Council & the Liberty Township Trustees with providing the sidewalk & a drainage system for the south side of the Town Hall. To provide the storm drainage our plan is to install a drainage tile from the Fire Dept. downspout to the storm sewer catch basin on the West side of N. Detroit St. just north of the Detroit & Columbus Street intersection. The two (2) Town Hall downspouts plus a yard drain would connect to this new drain line. We plan to install this line about 3-5 feet south of the building.
5) The process of installing the above drainage system will require excavation within the root zone of the evergreen tree at the south side of the Town Hall & will also remove a portion of the tree’s water supply. If you stop by the Town Hall & look you will find that the tree is starting to cause damage to the sidewalk area. Some damage to tree roots is bound to occur in the process of installing the required drainage & new sidewalk. Eventually the tree will come down.
6) Several years ago an arborist was asked for a non-biased opinion of the health of this tree. He stated that the tree is at the end of its lifespan. The tree has grown taller than the Town Hall. So tall in fact that our local electrician, Bob Rabenstein, chooses not to decorate this tree as the Town Christmas tree. He has installed lighting & trenched in an electrical power supply to the evergreen on the north side of the Town Hall. That tree was illuminated last year as the new Town Christmas Tree. Part of the Town Hall landscape plans call for removal of the overgrown shrubs on both the north & south sides for the Town Hall. This will make the Town Christmas Tree at the North side both more visible & more accessible.
7) The landscape plan calls for tree replacement with deciduous trees on the south side. But another evergreen could be considered.
8) But we as the Village Historical Society are between a rock & a hard place as we need to provide new sidewalks to meet ADA accessibility requirements but are being asked not to take down the tree. The newly restored first floor will not be usable without the sidewalks but the tree will be damaged in this process. This will ultimately cause the tree to come down possibly with human & property damage.
The committee plans to have several committee members at the Liberty Gathering Place from 6 to 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14,m to listen to the public’s comments about the tree & the renovation.