Liberty mayor prepares to tackle infrastructure

By Ben Robinson, Courier Staff

LIBERTY — Eric Boughman realized when he ran for mayor of Liberty he would be facing some problems left over from previous administrations, but he never dreamed about the depth of the city’s water problems.

“The majority of our sewer lines are 1925 lines,” Boughman said.

Boughman said that city employee Olin Hamlin had been talking about the water situation for years.

“It was kind of like ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” Boughman said.

But the city risks having these problems come up at once and finding the cost of repair too great.

“We’re going to have a work session Monday,” Boughman said. “All I can say for certain is we’re definitely going to make a plan.”

But rather than wait until the problem causes real harm to the city, Boughman is attacking it head-on.

“Somebody is going to have to just take the bull by the horns and attack it,” Boughman said. “We’ve got to start, because nobody’s even started up to this point.”

Boughman had heard that the city’s water system needed attention.

“I had heard that the infrastructure was a mess,” Boughman said. “Olin showed me what a manhole was supposed to look like, then he showed me what the majority of ours looked like. There are places where the water is just running from here to here, the pipes is just gone.”

Boughman said the city’s pipes may continue to work for years, but it could also be a looming catastrophe.

“I just want to try and get it fixed,” Boughman said.

Boughman hopes that a tax increase to cover the costs of repairs will be a “last resort.”

“I am hoping that it will not be necessary to do anything as far as taxes,” Boughman said. “I want to try every other way before we do something like that.”

Boughman was also concerned about lines near the site of upcoming roadwork by the state at the intersection of S.C. 93 and S.C. 178.

“We’re either going to have to move them out of the right of way or get them up to where they need to be so (highway department employees) can do their work and not disturb sewer service.”

Boughman realizes the water improvements are necessary for any growth in Liberty.

“You don’t just say ‘I want to grow,’” Boughman said. “You have to make plans, which is why solving Liberty’s water problems is so important.

“We want to encourage businesses to come,” Boughman said, “but they have to be able to flush their toilets.”