Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to The Belle Isle Sun

Also featured in the April edition of the Conway News, in print and online at

As you may be aware, the City of Belle Isle has abandoned its plans to build a local fire department. After learning of City Hall’s plan, hundreds of Belle Isle residents attended the City Council meeting on March 5 to voice their disapproval of this wasteful and potentially dangerous project.  Subdivisions in Belle Isle attempted to deannex from the City rather than allow City Hall to decrease their fire service without notifying residents or seeking their input.  In the face of such strong public opposition, Mayor William Brooks soon ordered cancellation of the fire department project.  However, City Hall has yet to address the underlying problem: its lack of communication with Belle Isle residents about the major changes it has in store for their City.

In the wake of the fire department, police department and charter school projects, the biggest question Belle Isle residents keep asking is how City Hall managed to work on each of these projects for so long without making any effort to notify residents or seek their input.  But while the reasons behind City Hall’s recent “culture of secrecy” are still unclear, it has become apparent to many Belle Isle residents that neither the City’s website nor its “e-lert” email system can be relied upon to inform them of important City news.
Although City Hall found space on its website for a prominent “Mayor’s Message” as soon as the fire department project was cancelled, there was no such mention of the fire department project at any time while City Hall was actively pursuing it.  Although City Hall sent out a prompt “e-lert” email to notify residents of the project’s cancellation, it sent no such emails to notify residents of the Council meetings where they authorized the fire department and hired our City’s fire chief.

Despite repeated requests from residents to increase City Hall transparency and the amount of information available on the City’s website, City Hall has given no indication that it plans to address these requests.  And although the fire department battle has been won, it appears that City Hall still has more major plans for our City, including annexation of a large portion of Taft while avoiding an otherwise mandatory resident vote on the issue.

With so much on the table and so little hard information coming from City Hall, residents need a source for up-to-date Belle Isle news.  It is in that spirit that I welcome you to The Belle Isle Sun, located at

At The Belle Isle Sun, you will find the latest news about what’s going on in Belle Isle, including summaries of all public meetings.  Visit the Sun’s public records repository to review nearly 1000 pages of public records obtained from City Hall on a number of topics, including the fire department project, yearly budgets, and the City’s annexation plans.

Sign up for The Belle Isle Sun email newsletter or follow us on Twitter (@belleislesun) to receive timely notifications whenever a new article has been posted.  And feel free to email me at with any ideas, questions or story tips.

Feeling “in the dark” about what’s going on in your City?  Shed some light at The Belle Isle Sun!

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