Coun­cil ap­proves firm for com­pre­hen­sive plan

The Weekly Vista - - News - KEITH BRYANT

Dur­ing Mon­day’s reg­u­lar meet­ing, the City Coun­cil au­tho­rized an agree­ment with Gould Evans to build a com­pre­hen­sive plan to carry the city into 2040.

Gould Evans was se­lected out of eight firms that sent in a pro­posal. The firm was cho­sen by a se­lec­tion com­mit­tee, Mayor Peter Christie said.

The res­o­lu­tion passed with four votes in fa­vor. Al­der­man James Woz­niak voted in op­po­si­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port in the meet­ing packet, the con­tract is set to cost $157,030. While the city bud­geted $120,000 for this project, be­cause it will con­tinue into early 2018, the city can pay the re­main­ing $37,030 with 2018 funds.

Den­nis Strait, prin­ci­pal and board mem­ber for Gould Evans, said the plan would be fo­cused on build­ing value and fos­ter­ing pri­vate in­vest­ment in the city. Their plan­ning process will take 12 to 13 months to com­plete and fea­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties for pub­lic en­gage­ment.

The process starts, Gould Evan vice pres­i­dent and plan­ner Gra­ham Smith said, with a pub­lic en­gage­ment plan, and then moves into a com­mu­nity and fis­cal as­sess­ment. From there, he said, the firm builds a vi­sion and gets a plan to­gether that can be im­ple­mented.

“This all boils down to an ac­tion plan for the com­mu­nity,” Smith said.

Al­der­man Linda Lloyd, who was on the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee, said she was un­ques­tion­ably in fa­vor of hir­ing this firm. They stood out, she said, among other qual­i­fied ap­pli­cants.

“I think the com­pre­hen­sive plan is some­thing that is sorely needed in this com­mu­nity,” she said. “It’s not some­thing that can be done in house.”

She worked on the strate­gic plan­ning com­mit­tee in 2012, she said, and that can func­tion as a base to this process.

Al­der­man Brian Bahr said Bella Vista is tran­si­tion and growth: The me­dian age is de­creas­ing, and he doesn’t be­lieve growth is go­ing to slow down. Hav­ing this plan, he said, could help guide devel­op­ers in­ter­ested in work­ing in the city.

“One thing we’re lack­ing is that com­mer­cial el­e­ment,” he said.

Al­der­man Doug Fowler sat in dur­ing the in­ter­view process, he said, and he was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed in this firm’s fo­cus on fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Fowler said he has heard a lot of com­ments about the city cre­at­ing a plan by it­self; he isn’t sure that, even with its tal­ented work­ers, the city has the man­power or ex­per­tise for it.

“We want to do as much as we can as well as we can,” he said, “but we don’t want to lean out over our skis too far.”

Al­der­man Woz­niak, how­ever, had reser­va­tions. Bella Vista, he said, lacks space for the com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment a plan like this would be geared to­ward gen­er­at­ing.

“I just don’t think at this point we have the money,” he said. “If I’m wrong, great, my bad.”

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