Van Buren Mayor Joe Hurst introduced former Fort Smith Director of Planning and Development Wally Bailey as the city’s new Planning Director during Monday night’s city council meeting.
Bailey stepped down from his post with the city of Fort Smith after 41 years.
“I just reached the point in my life where I wanted to get back to doing something more of what I like doing,” Bailey told the council. “The job had evolved into a lot more administrative work and a lot of other things. I enjoy the planning and the nuts and bolts and working with people, the planning commission, the council and the mayor.”
Hurst said, Bailey “brings a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, a lot of expertise” to the position, adding, “We’re excited to get Wally involved in helping us continue to move forward in the planning department as we look at all sorts of regulations and planning, all sorts of things we’ll be doing with Wally. We’re just really excited about having him. I’m really excited to have him here.”
Hurst was the city’s previous Planning Director before being elected mayor. The position has been vacant since the election.
“My experience with the city of Fort Smith started in the water department for three years and then I went to the Community Development Block Grant Program,” said Bailey. “It eventually evolved into a building official position and eventually overseeing a lot of the significant building projects for the city — the Lee Station Fire Station, riverfront development, the convention center, four new libraries and the renovation, restoration and salvation of Miss Laura’s building after the ’96 tornado. That was the most interesting historic preservation project.”
Bailey was also Fort Smith’s Director of Developmental Services, which he said is where “I had responsibility for property cleanup, building codes, community block grant programs, parking garage maintenance and historic preservation. Toward the end I had the full business license administration.”
Bailey said he’s had “a wealth of experience with city government,” adding, “Mayor Hurst and I have had conversations for a long time. Mayor Hurst actually interned for the city of Fort Smith when I was there, too, so we’ve known each other for some time.”
Bailey’s appearance at the city council meeting signaled the end of his first day on the job.
“I’m excited about this opportunity for myself, to serve the mayor and the council and the citizens of Van Buren in any capacity I can and to the best of my ability, and to do whatever I can to make Van Buren the best possible city in the region,” he told the council.