Editor's note: Peter Christie is only the second mayor the city of Bella Vista has ever had, and even though the mayor's second term is coming to an end, he's chosen not to run for re-election. The city has seen many improvements and much positive growth under his administration.
Christie was recently asked his thoughts about Bella Vista, in particular the things he's most proud of over the past eight years where the community is concerned and he was happy to contribute the following thoughts for The Weekly Vista's Bella Vista Proud section.
I am honored to have been given the opportunity to serve our community for two terms as mayor and am very proud of many things we've accomplished as a community during that time.
• I am proud of our our residents. We are a community that enjoys the outdoors and all our wonderful amenities. We are a caring community helping our neighbors and friends. We volunteer at our churches, service clubs, animal shelter, museum, library, various commissions, foundations, councils and more!
• I am very proud of our city employees and their supportive families. I have been building teams for more than 40 years. We have the best of the best!
• I am proud of our administrative team which has expanded to include communications, human resources and IT. Our legal and financial teams have taken on more work as our city continues to grow. Our Community Development Services organizations have grown with more building inspectors, code enforcement officers, planners and trail management.
• I am proud of our city councilors who have supported our expansion of city infrastructure to stay ahead of the amazing growth we have experienced over the last six years.
-- We increased the road resurfacing budget from $800,000 in 2014 to $3.7 million in 2022.
-- We opened Fire Station No. 4 in July 2016 and new Station No. 3 in January 2022, replacing our former Station No. 3 built in 1987. We have increased the number of firefighters from 38 in 2015 to 61 in 2022. we have upgraded our fire equipment. The fire team took a leadership role in covid vaccinations for residents and other communities within northwest Arkansas. We have one final fire project funded by the bond -- the fire training facility. The plan is to have this built and in operation in 2023.
-- Over the last seven years our commissioned police officers have increased from 22 in 2015 to 39 in 2022. A certified tactical force is in place as is our new motorcycle division. In 2016 we started our certified bicycle patrol unit for our 100-plus miles of trails. Our very first police station with courthouse is scheduled to be completed in December and up and running in early 2023.
• State legislation was passed in 2017 enabling Bella Vista to have its own district court. Another first of which I am proud!
• I am proud of the collaboration between the city and the Bella Vista Library Foundation with the new 6,480-square-foot addition bringing the total library square footage to 13,580. The new children's area is fabulous. The library has a new community room as well as quiet study rooms, a reading area and beautiful gardens thanks to many volunteer hours!
• I am proud of the close positive relationship with the Bella Vista Village Property Owners Association. Our largest project has been the creation of the hiking and biking trails. Trails have given Bella Vista a new amenity that has grown into a very popular destination for not only residents but for visitors far and wide. This has helped boost our economic development and property values.
• I'm proud of our private/public partnership with the Walton Family Foundation for the building of our soft surface and hard surface trails which has been completed at no cost to the taxpayers.
• I'm proud of the city's financial position. We have a strong balance sheet, all short-term debt has been discharged, our long-term debt is funded through a 1-cent sales tax and we have available funds of approximately $10 million of which 25% must always be kept in reserve per an ordinance I introduced in 2018 and was approved by City Council.