Bill Burrough said the city of Hot Springs tends to reinvent itself time after time. With the completion of Phase I of the Northwoods Trail System and last month’s announcement of the Oaklawn Racing & Gaming expansion, Burrough said Hot Springs is a prime spot to be reinvigorated once more.
“We have so many great things happening within our community,” Burrough said. “We will be working with the board to set the goals and priorities for moving forward.
“We have several opportunities, some that we have worked on the past couple of years that we hope to bring to fruition in 2019.”
Burrough was recently named the new city manager for the city of Hot Springs. He replaced David Frasher, who resigned in June. Burrough will receive a base salary of $165,000, effective Jan. 1, along with an annual $7,800 vehicle allowance and a $100 monthly cellphone allowance.
“I think public service is a calling,” said Burrough, 53. “I have been with the city for almost 17 years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to give back to a community that I was born and raised in.”
Construction began last November on Phase I of the system of the 14-mile mountain-bike trail. Phase II of the trail system will result in a 44.6-mile system of biking trails and will run through forested hills and around three lakes. The grand opening for the Northwoods Trail System took place Nov. 16. Burrough said he is very excited about the future of that amenity.
Also in November, Oaklawn Racing & Gaming announced plans for an expansion project in excess of $100 million that will include the construction of a high-rise hotel, a multipurpose event center, a larger gaming area and additional on-site parking.
According to the website www.oaklawn.com, “Construction on the project will begin in May, immediately following completion of the 2019 racing season. The target completion date for the expansion is Jan. 2020, with the hotel and event center to be completed in late 2020.”
“Currently, we enjoy 3 million visitors and overnight stays here, and I think [the project] is just going to add to the marketability of the city,” Burrough said. “It will bring a new group of visitors to Hot Springs.”
Burrough has served as interim manager twice, once after the unexpected death of David Watkins. Burrough assumed that role for almost nine months. He also served as interim city manager upon the resignation of Frasher.
He has served as deputy city manager since 2012.
“I was very engaged as the deputy city manager,” Burrough said. “Really, in that role, I was more linked to a chief operating manager, and it was well positioned for me to move into the interim role.
“I will continue to be focused on the mission and the priorities the board of directors has set, and we will continue seamlessly with the operations of the city.”
Burrough is originally from Hot Springs, having graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1983. He joined the city as the solid-waste director in 2002 after working for BFI Waste Services of Little Rock from 1994 to 2002.
“I believe it was a series of opportunities that led me to the city,” Burrough said. “I’ve always had a customer-service background, and it suited me well as I moved into this role.”
Burrough has been married to his wife, Tonya, for two years, and together they have four children: Jordan Burrough, 28, Chase Burrough, 22, Dawson Guzman, 19, and Rylee Guzman, 13.
“This is my home. I love Hot Springs. There is no other place I want to be or want to work,” Burrough said.
“I think it is important that you are able to share that with your family,” he said. “The values that I have learned in a small town like Hot Springs have suited me well throughout my career.
“It is just a great place to live and play and raise a family. There was no reason for me to move them out of a place like Hot Springs.”
Gary Troutman, president and CEO of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Hot Springs Metro Partnership, said he has known Burrough since Troutman served as general manager of the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record.
“Bill has done an outstanding job in his interim role,” Troutman said. “He has been a conduit for relationships, both with the city and Garland County.
“He commands a lot of respect in all walks of life, but he is also very relatable, from upper professionals to regular laborers.”
Troutman said that with the level of integrity Burrough brings to the profession, “it sets up the city for good things.”
“We are ecstatic that Bill was elevated to this position,” Troutman said. “I tell you, the majority were rooting for Bill to get this job.”
One project in Hot Springs that has gained a lot of attention, Burrough said, is the site of the former Majestic Hotel.
“We are going to have a public-input session during the first quarter of 2019,” Burrough said. “We are hoping to bring that back as we decide what we would like to see permanently on that historic site.”
Other projects include a 3-million-gallon water tower that will be behind the Cornerstone market place in Hot Springs. Burrough said the city has also started the design process of a water-treatment plant, and it will be the first water plant the city has built since the mid-1960s.
“Our public-safety radio communications and our 911 dispatch are other priorities we will continue to focus on,” Burrough said. “We hope to have that completed around the third quarter of 2019. … Those are just a few of the major projects.”
He said the city also has plans for Malvern Avenue as another gateway to the downtown area.
“Any downtown in any community is important for the viability of the city, but more so in Hot Springs, just because of our historic nature,” Burrough said. “That’s why the Majestic site is so important. We only have one chance to do that, and we want to do it right.
“It sits at the end of that historic avenue. There is no other city in the United States that has a National Park on one side of the street and a city on the other.”
Burrough said that with so many projects scheduled for the upcoming year, there are bound to be some challenges.
“We will put a plan together and overcome those challenges,” he said. “It won’t prevent us from being successful and pushing us over the goal line.”
Burrough said Hot Springs has always been a destination for Arkansas and the nation.
“We will continue to build upon the amenities that we currently have, and we will continue to bring more people,” Burrough said. “We will see not only Hot Springs, but Garland County, grow.”
Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.