By KELSY LORIN TAYLOR
Web Editor and Feature Writer
LOOKING AHEAD: From left, Mayor Ray Bowen, Director of Economic Development Trish Richey and Dr. Kyle Wood pause in the Dowes Building in downtown Bixby to discuss the positive things that are planned for the New Year.
KELSY LORIN TAYLOR for GTR Newspapers
Bixby has become a dynamic and enriching community that many businesses and individuals have been proud to call home. With previous accomplishments and future plans, the community boasts success. Mayor Ray Bowen, Director of Economic Development Trish Richey and Superintendent Dr. Kyle Wood are looking forward to what the New Year will bring.
In the last year, Bixby has seen a variety of positive additions to the community. Regal Plaza has provided a convenient shopping destination while the Spirit Bank Event Center has brought a number of events for citizens to enjoy.
The second phase of the Bentley Park Sports Complex is underway and estimated to be complete in the spring of this year. Bowen believes that the project will provide one of the most innovative sports facilities in the state. “This will have a very positive effect on Bixby in 2010 for our youth and families.”
Richey agrees and adds that the park now consists of two baseball quads, one softball quad, a super playground, splash pad, tournament level horseshoe pits, bocce courts, a 7,000 square foot multi-purpose building and 15 soccer fields. “I see this as a tremendous addition to our community. It adds to the quality of life as well as having a significant impact on our economic development.”
There has been so much already planned for the New Year. The City of Bixby has enlisted the help of Integra Realty Resources as master developer consultants to plan for commercial developments.
David Murphy of Crawford and Associates will also work beside city officials to finalize the master plan for Bixby. “This will be a positive plan as Bixby moves into the future,” says Bowen.
Richey will participate in finalizing the master plan and share the community with others. “It is a continuing effort to raise the level of awareness of our city’s location, strong demographics, preferred schools and quality residential developments in an effort to attract more business to our city.”
One of the most important goals for Bowen is to work towards having an additional bridge constructed over the Arkansas River. With increasing traffic on the bridge, an additional route for police, fire and medical vehicles is essential. “I will do everything I can to see that this is a high priority for Bixby this year.”
Improvements on other roads and bridges will also be a priority. “We need to get our legislature to allow the county to do road work in municipalities as this is the only source for getting our roads and bridges improved.” The county participation would save Bixby two-thirds of the cost of the improvements.
Bixby Public Schools will be preparing to meet the needs that additional growth will bring. “Our schools are at and nearing capacity. Therefore, we have a bond issue planned for April 13 that will be made up primarily of addressing our space needs in the district with the construction of elementary, middle and high school classrooms,” notes Wood.
Quality educational experiences for students will continue and expand this year. Woods explains that this means “attracting and retaining the best teachers, compensating teachers at a high level, providing students with the resources needed for a quality education as well as providing quality facilities for our students, staff and community.”
One of the major events this year will be the Bixby Metro Chamber’s Gala, which Bowen feels is very important for the business community.
Bixby citizens are encouraged to attend the Eggs Over Issues Series, which Senator Dan Newberry is planning. The event will be held the last Friday of every month at 7:30 a.m. in the Apple Barrel Café.