Next steps taken for Liberty Park renovation

Walkway, recreation and event amenities are among the planned additions at amphitheater-anchored Liberty Park. /Lee Sullivan

MOORESVILLE – Unlike its neighbors to the south, Mooresville did not experience a tectonic shift in the composition of its town board in last month’s elections. Thanks to a delay in the reporting of census information needed to determine the outlines of the town’s four wards, combined with its existing staggered cycle for mayor, at-large and by-district commissioner elections, only two seats were on the ballot in November, and the winning incumbents were sworn in at Monday night’s meeting. 

It was in a much lower-key fashion than Huntersville’s new mayor and three new commissioners, an almost wholesale turnover on the Cornelius town board and fresh faces in the Davidson municipal races, that Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, and at-large Commissioner Gary West, took their oaths of office at the beginning of the Dec. 6 meeting, with Judge Joseph Crosswhite presiding.

Immediately following the oaths, Commissioner (Ward 4) Lisa Qualls was unanimously re-appointed by her peers as mayor pro tempore, essentially completing a reboot of the existing town board seats heading into 2022.

A brief ceremony recognizing the most recent class of Mooresville Police Department’s Citizens Academy participants was also held, in which Assistant Police Chief Robert Dyson presented certificates to the nearly dozen graduates.

Recounting some of the Academy activities throughout the nine-week course, Dyson said participants experienced everything from processing a crime scene, learning about the use of force, watching an officer take a shot from a Taser and participating in a “shoot-don’t shoot” simulator at Mitchell Community College. The next Academy session will begin in March.

In a lighthearted acknowledgment there might be spectators in the meeting chamber who knew how to work a Taser, Bob Taylor of Potter & Company certified public accountants promised the board a favorable report related to the town’s recent annual comprehensive financial report and audit.

“To be sure, this is going to be a positive report tonight,” he jokingly told the board. All kidding aside, the results of the audit were exemplary, he said. As of June 30, 2021, the town’s comprehensive financials got a clean bill of health, with the audit completed without any exceptions. A strong increase in the sales and property tax collected coupled with what Taylor described as a “significant” amount of cost control measures implemented due to the uncertainty of COVID-19’s effect on the town’s checkbook, allowed the town to finish the fiscal year with about $13 million in its fund balance.

“The Town of Mooresville had a great financial year,” Taylor said.

Park progress planned

The centerpiece of Monday night’s meeting, however, was the approval of a contract for Liberty Park Phase 2 construction and renovation. The nearly $8 million project was awarded to Cornelius-based J.D. Goodrum Company, with construction completion expected in the spring of 2023.

Significant improvements and additions are coming to the park, including a 1,400-foot pedestrian walkway between Iredell Avenue and Church Street with smart lighting and callboxes that connect directly to law enforcement dispatch, improved play areas, an interactive fountain and a covered, full-court basketball area that can also be used for other activities.

There will be an additional picnic shelter and restrooms, as well as an enhanced entry to the event lawn adding covered pergola swings, a butterfly-shaped climbing structure for kids and room for food trucks during events. The current amphitheater will remain open for use during construction.

Commissioner at Large Bobby Compton and Commissioner (Ward 2) Thurman Houston were complimentary of not just the project, but the process as well.

Compton was particularly impressed with town staff for being able to deliver on every possible option of the park’s plan, rather than having to endure a culling process that could have whittled the project down to a bare-bones model to be able to afford to build it – as is often the case when planning and paying for large town endeavors.

“It’s beautiful,” said Houston, adding he’s especially happy a new and improved Liberty Park will appeal to all generations of Mooresville residents. “It blows my mind when I look at it.”

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