Community engagement and participation is a top priority for the City of Liberty Hill as it works to update its comprehensive plan over the next 12 to 18 months.
The first of many community engagement events was held Sept. 8 at the Liberty Hill Municipal Court for residents to voice their opinions on the community’s strongest assets, needed assets and the future of Liberty Hill through a series of interactive stations. The stations were created by Verdunity, the Dallas-based consulting firm the City hired to rewrite its Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Code.
Each of the stations gave residents the opportunity to share their different opinions and helped Verdunity understand the demographics of Liberty Hill.
“It was clear from the exercises that the community feels there is a lot to offer in Liberty Hill,” said AJ Fawver, community consulting program leader for Verdunity. “They appreciate the things that are unique like local businesses, the support of the school district and all the youth sports. A lot about the identity of Liberty Hill was revealed.”
For example, at one station, residents were asked to place a stone in a clear container stating whether they lived within Liberty Hill city limits or outside the city limits. The same was done for residents to place a stone in a container if they worked within Liberty Hill city limits or outside the city limits.
“It was interesting to see where people live and where they work, and if it’s inside or outside the city,” Fawver said. “There was a really good mix of people that lived in and out and worked in and out. I think this will give us a better, more well-rounded view of the community, and not just the views of the people in Liberty Hill proper. We didn’t count how many [stones] were in each container, but at a glance, it looked pretty even.”
Another station allowed residents to write down what they felt were the City’s best assets when it came to physical, economic, community and identity assets; while another asked residents to write down where they go in Liberty Hill for fun and entertainment and to meet their families’ needs, as well as where they go outside of Liberty Hill for those same things.
The final station asked residents how they felt decisions should be made within the City based on a set of 10 different principles, like culture and history; fiscal responsibility; innovation and new ideas; community partnerships; and more.
Fawver said through these stations, her company will be able to understand what the community of Liberty Hill finds to be important and valuable, which will play a major role in rewriting the City’s comprehensive plan.
“We got a lot of really insightful and thoughtful responses,” Fawver said. “Everyone was generous with their time and thought carefully about the questions that were posed. We will find a great deal of depth as we go through it and unique responses that will help us. We haven’t looked through it all yet, but the content and quality of what we have to review will be insightful.”
Residents trickled in and out of the come-and-go event throughout the evening. Luisana O’Brian, who lives in the extraterritorial jurisdiction, said she went to the event because it was important to her to voice her opinion.
“We are living in this town, and we should be able to have a say in what it looks like,” she said. “I was curious what kinds of questions they were going to ask. I have lived in other cities that have been in a growth stage, and unless you tell the leaders what you want, they’re just going to do what they think you want.”
Longtime resident Susan Barnes, who resides within the city limits, said she has a lot of stock in Liberty Hill as she raised her family here. She also has a strong love for the art and cultural vibes of the town.
“I support the cultural feel of Liberty Hill, and I don’t want to lose that,” she said. “I want to make sure people who are making the decisions are mindful of the arts and culture. I realize change is happening quickly, but it’s nice to have input and say what we think is important.”
Residents who were unable to attend the event will have other opportunities throughout the course of the comprehensive rewrite plan to voice their opinions, Fawver said.
In the meantime, all residents, both inside and outside the Liberty Hill city limits, are asked to fill out a baseline survey that allows the public to rank the City in several different categories. That survey can be accessed at Liberty Hill Comprehensive Plan Community Assessment Survey (surveymonkey.com) and will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete, Fawver said.