Bartlett sees education honors, retail growth, housing needs, multiple projects in the city's sesquicentennial year
The year 2016 was very special in Bartlett as we celebrated our sesquicentennial (150 year) birthday as a city. The sesquicentennial committee worked hard and planned a variety of fun events throughout the year to commemorate this milestone, and I hope many of you participated in them and enjoyed them. The Historic Bartlett Weekend hosted by the historic Gotten House Museum was a big hit where citizens got a glimpse of Bartlett past. There were concerts, a golf tournament, The Battle of Bartlett Civil War reenactment and many other events, and they were all well attended. All proceeds from these events will be donated to the West Tennessee Veterans Home and presented to them at an upcoming meeting of the mayor and Board of Aldermen. A lot has changed in our great city since the days when it was a stage coach stop, and today we continue to strive to improve and grow in ways that maintain our small-town image while also making sure we are prepared for future generations to enjoy the same quality of life in an ever-changing world.
One of the foundations of preparing for the future is through quality education, and I am so proud of our Bartlett City Schools. They received the Department of Education’s highest honor when they earned the Exemplary district designation in their inaugural year, and they continue to build upon that success. Superintendent David Stephens was named Superintendent of the Year in the state of Tennessee in 2016. I am proud of his accomplishments, and through his confident, steadfast leadership and the excellent teachers and staff, Bartlett City Schools remains a highly desirable school district for families across our community. I am excited about the upcoming renovation and improvements to Bartlett High School and the maintenance on many other school buildings. We are also seeing the results of our Exemplary district in the way of housing values. They continue to go up, and homes are selling quickly, especially in the vicinity of schools. These were the results we expected, and we look forward to that trend continuing.
We are seeing an increase in retail development and re-development in Bartlett. Buildings are getting face-lifts, and older buildings are being retrofitted for new uses. Our Industrial Park is seeing growth and bringing hundreds of new jobs. I encourage you to go take a look at that area and see the progress taking place. I am encouraged and excited about the great new casual restaurant choices, including the new Pizza Social, which opened recently, and Chick-fil-A, which is coming in 2018. Both will bring a renewed interest to that area of Kirby Whitten.
I recently met with the Tennessee Home Builder’s Association and talked about the need for housing options for millennials and empty nesters in Bartlett. These groups, as well as others, express a need for decent-sized homes with minimal maintenance and yard upkeep. We will be meeting with developers in the future to discuss meeting these needs for our citizens.
We continue to upgrade our infrastructure with projects ranging from road paving to complete renovations of buildings and parks. Road widening on Austin Peay continues to progress toward Old Brownsville Road. As has been planned for many years, the widening of Old Brownsville will begin at Austin Peay and continue to Kirby Whitten Road. W.J. Freeman Park will be undergoing a major upgrade, beginning at the end of 2017. The master plan has been in the works and has been approved. It will create better flow for park visitors, more parking and less congestion for larger events taking place there. Other areas undergoing improvements are Fletcher Creek Greenway, which will incorporate a walking and biking trail. The greenway is in the Brother Boulevard and Santa Valley area. I encourage you to get out in this spring weather and enjoy these beautiful areas as well as our many other Bartlett parks and recreation areas.
I am proud to have the new Fire Training Facility up and running. Aside from being very beneficial to the training of our fire personnel, it helps keep home insurance premiums down and keeps our Insurance Service Rating (ISO) low. This is good news for homeowners all around. We have requested in this year’s budget to add a new ambulance for Fire Station No. 2 as well as additional police officers to create an Eighth Precinct covering the commercial district along our eastern border of the city. We want our citizens to feel safe shopping and doing business everywhere in Bartlett. First responders are one of our greatest assets. Keeping our citizens safe and being quick to respond in times of crisis is crucial to a thriving community.
As I look back on this past year, I am proud of the services we have and continue to provide to the citizens of Bartlett. Our goal is to always meet the needs and exceed the expectations, and I consistently receive compliments and praises for our fine city employees for their hard work and professionalism. I look forward to the upcoming year and the opportunity to continue providing safe neighborhoods, quality schools and amenities to our growing city. Thank you from all of us here at the City of Bartlett for the honor of serving you.
Written by Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald.