Liberty Tennis Courts Restoration Project to Proceed

August 16, 2022
City: Dwayne Page

A restoration of the Liberty Tennis Courts will proceed.

During a special called meeting Monday night, all members of the Liberty town council agreed to move forward with the project with the exception of Kendra Stanford, a new alderman who last week raised questions about the company doing the work. Because of Stanford’s concerns, Mayor Audrey Martin said work on the project was stopped Thursday until the aldermen could meet and resolve the issues.

In May, 2022, the former Liberty town council voted unanimously to hire Seal Rite, Inc, doing business as Sport Rite, Inc. of Tullahoma to repair the tennis courts at a bid price of $28,600. According to the minutes from the May 2, 2022 meeting, “it was decided that there would be two tennis courts. A basketball goal would also be installed on the outside of the fence facing the parking lot”. The minutes went on to reflect that the town had received a $1,000 donation from one individual and that total donations towards the project came to approximately $4,000. Last month, the county commission earmarked $18,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the Liberty Tennis Court Renovation and city leaders say the project is also to be supported by a matching grant.

Alderman JD Bratten said the city’s decision to rehabilitate the tennis courts was the result of interest by residents of the town.

“The town of Liberty people came to us and said this is what we want. We got this bid and this is what we want to do with it. Okay, that’s what we did, and we all (aldermen) voted on it,” said Alderman Bratten.
After the city initially advertised and was unsuccessful in obtaining bids for the project, Sport Rite, Inc. was contacted by former alderman Derek Johnson on behalf of the city and the company quoted an estimate.

According to Johnson, who was at the meeting Monday night, all the aldermen later met with the owner of the company before voting to award the project based on that quote which included repairing cracks and resurfacing the tennis courts.

“The whole board met with Sal (company owner) and he gave us a price, but he had to re-evaluate it because we had delayed the process. This is the new (price) he sent back to us ($28,600). When he sent that back to us, he said if we all agreed to do it, to sign that piece of paper and send it back to him and that would be our contract between us and him,” said Johnson.

Stanford said the ownership of the company apparently changed recently and that the new owner is not a licensed contractor but is operating under the previous owner’s license.

“This guy (owner) doesn’t have a contractor’s license. It is under the previous owner’s name. He didn’t own this company until July 13. He has to have a contractor’s license with the state of Tennessee under his name,” said Stanford.

“Sal (owner) said to me that he is responsible for it and has the license and also has the insurance,” said Alderman Bratten.

Alderman Stanford also questioned if the city actually has a valid contract since the terms lack specifics. “I thought a contract was supposed to specify when they were going to start the job and finish the job. This is not even a contract. It is an estimate,” she said.

Because of the concerns raised, Mayor Audrey Martin said Smithville Attorney Vester Parsley was contacted. Although not on retainer, Parsley is sometimes consulted by city leaders for legal advice.

According to Mayor Martin and City Secretary Charlotte Bratten, Parsley advised the city not to take any action to change or void the existing agreement with the company.

“If Vester Parsley says that this is a binding contract, we have to go with it. He is a lawyer. He said if we wanted to do away with it (agreement) then we would be in the middle of a lawsuit and we could lose,” said Martin.

“I don’t think there would be a lawsuit if they (company) are not legitimate,” said Alderman Stanford.

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