Mayor discusses water, connector streets and Bryant’s continued growth

By Martin Couch

In three-and-half years as Mayor of Bryant, Larry Mitchell has seen growth of epic proportions in industry and population.

Ten years ago there was no Wal-Mart or Target retail stores to serve Bryant’s nearly 9,700 people living within its city limits. (And when the 2010 Census is announced, that number is expected to double.) Today with those retailers in the area and others as well, preliminary figures indicate that the city will be populated with 17,000-plus citizens.[more]

“I’m so excited about Bryant as a city,” Mitchell said. “We have been fortunate and blessed with our growth over the last 10 years. We’ve come a long way.”

And the future of Bryant is even brighter.

“We’ve been working with the City Council members to continue the growth,” Mitchell said. “We’re looking at a 20-year plan for water and sewer facility expansions and we’ve passed a bond issue for street work. We’ve done overlays for connector streets that we’re trying to plan. We want to make sure that the growth continues in a fashion that is beneficial and not done in a haphazard manner to keep it going.”

The most immediate improvement is the construction of Bishop Park, which is slated to open in the summer and, in a more long-term plan, the city is working with the Corps of Engineers in Arkansas to secure a water supply from Lake DeGray.

“Thirty years down the line, Bryant won’t have to worry about its water supply and we’re excited about it,” Mitchell indicated.

Another short-term, five-year plan is to build connector streets from Raymar overpass to Highway 5, coming in at Springdale Road, to open a corridor for future commercial and residential areas.

A connector street from the Spring Hill overpass to Woodlawn Park and from Woodlawn Park to Prickett Road is also being thought of, as is a connector road to the municipal airport.

“I don’t know when exactly it will happen, but we’ve got several people looking to locate businesses there and one day it’s going to happen,” Mitchell said.

Currently, Bryant is among the top two fastest growing cities in Arkansas and ranked 86th out of the top 100 cities in America in which to live.

“I’m not surprised,” Mitchell said. “What really started Bryant’s growth years ago was the school system. It’s the A-number one thing to cause the city’s growth. We’re starting to gain our own identity all the time, but I think the schools, the safe community and the short distance to Little Rock where 75 to 80 percent of our population works, has gotten us to the point that we have had enough population to bring in the retail stores more, and those invite more people to move to our area.”

With that, on Thursday, two business — and Fundraising Pals — held ribbon-cutting ceremonies with the Bryant Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re launching here in Saline County,” said CEO Shaun McFarland of Bryant, whose online ingenuity allows local businesses to offer coupons sent by text messaging. “It’s all online and eventually we’re going to be nationwide. It’s an adventure for us.”

Marilyn Wilcox and Carolyn Colcough, also of Bryant, have begun a fundraising business in town that will take the hustle-and-bustle out of group, school and church fundraising activities.

“We felt like there was a need for this in the area,” Wilcox, the company president, noted. “We started with an area 13-year-old baseball team and now we’re ready to do deals with the Bryant elementary schools.”

Fundraising Pals is also an online company that will do all the “legwork” involved in fundraising activities for Bryant area daycares, schools, ball teams, cheerleaders and more.

“One of the complaints of the Bryant schools on the coupon books was that no one could find the places,” Colcough, the company’s operations manager, said. “We are going to be able to fix it where businesses in the area can network with each other and give local coupons for the Bryant patrons, as well as sharing things of the same sort with other cities and counties in Arkansas and other states.”

Some of the area’s new Chamber of Commerce members are Pro Heating and Air, Papa John’s Pizza and Pit Crew Barbecue & Grill.


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