City’s lawyer says gun club property sale could be a problem


The City of West Liberty encountered a few snags in attempting to raise some money by selling city property, it was learned Tuesday, Sept. 1, at their regular first meeting of the month by the city council from the West Liberty Public Library.

Not only did the council learn they legally don’t have the right to sell the West Liberty Gun Club property, but wording in documents to sell the city’s downtown property at 113 E. Third Street also had flaws.

City attorney JAMIE Bosten said the city is obligated to a $1 a year lease agreement through at least 2033 before it can legally decide whether to renew the contact with the gun club or refuse it, set up in 20-year increments. He said the agreement was signed in 2014 by both parties and said although the city could negotiate with the tenant to purchase the property, it would be “difficult” to make the deal.

City council member Diane Beranek, who is on the city’s building and grounds committee, asked to see a copy of the 2014 agreement and said the committee would handle negotiations with the gun club, which has expressed interest in buying the property located on the southwest corner of the community.

The city decided to table the issue until after a meeting could be set up with the250-member gun club organization and president Bruce Guither.

Beranek also said there were some things that need to be “rewritten” in the agreement to sell the city’s downtown property at 115 Third Street, noting the property was initially listed as a rental unit instead of commercial. The abandoned property, which had hopes of becoming a new city hall at one time, was the subject of a controversial razing to the back of the building that took more property than initially anticipated and cost the city over $100,000.

The city also hoped to list a residential building lot at 505 East First Street as well with real estate agents. The empty lot was the subject of a house fire and has been the property of the city since October 2019.

In other business, the council approved a $103,772 expenditure to Cunningham Recreation of Charlotte, North Carolina, for surfacing work at the new Kimberly Park playground. A total of 86 cubic yards of 12-inch surface was laid.

The city also approved a proposed amendment to subdivision regulations regarding a “Park set aside ordinance,” requiring residential subdivisions to be designed to meet neighborhood park and open space needs of residents. The amendment would be an update to the city’s comprehensive plan.

The city is working with a developer on a new subdivision north of the Dutton Sports Complex on the northeast corner of the community.

City engineer Leo Foley report recent meetings have scaled down the project from initial plans.

In other development news, a rental unit development being put together by West Liberty developer DeePak Giri has also been the subject of meetings, working on storm water and erosion control issues on the development located on the southwest edge of the city. “The ball’s in his court at this point,” Foley said.

It was noted at the meeting the city researched another Iowa community that had a “parks set aside” ordinance. The ordinance will be discussed as part of a public hearing on Sept. 15. The city’s Parks and Recreation department as well as the city engineer support the approval of the ordinance.

Foley also talked about progress on testing at one of the city’s water wells.