City On The Move – A Visit With City Manager Bob Hart

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? ? The past few years have been good for the city of Kennedale. In November Mayor John Clark gave a comprehensive ?State of City? presentation to the Kennedale Chamber of Commerce. (The video of that presentation is available at the city website at The successes and improvements go back over a period of many years and include major contributions of several mayors and city council members past and sitting. Just this past year, Kennedale News reported on three awards given to the City of Kennedale. All were for excellence and/or innovations {{more}}in different aspects of city governance. When you talk to city leaders they all mention one individual who provides the anchor, City Manager Bob Hart. Although he would deny his importance, he does seem to be the common thread that runs through the string of successes the past 7 years.
You have been a city manager at several cities in Texas. What brought you to Kennedale?
? ? ?In 2003 I accepted a position as president of The Innovation Groups, a Florida based non-profit association dedicated to local government capacity building, organizational culture development, technology maximization, and networking. During my tenure, the organization developed a partnership with the International City/County Management Association and Arizona State University. Rather than moving to Arizona, my wife and I decided to return to Texas. We had not lived in this area and several of our children were in the metroplex; hence, we decided to move to this area. I called friends in the area and inquired as to what towns were seeking city managers. I was told about Kennedale. My wife and I visited the community as part of the interview process. The location of Kennedale relative to the Fort Worth region, the city council?s working relationship and vision, and the opportunity to make a positive difference in the community sold us on coming to Kennedale.

Comparing your experiences from the other cities that you have worked with what is similar and what is unique about Kennedale?

? ? ?My experience as city manager has been in stand-alone towns, that is, not within a metropolitan area. Consequently, coordination between neighboring towns and other regional organizations are essential. Kennedale is smaller than other cities for which I have worked and therefore the staff is much smaller. The city council?s collaborative attitude has been a blessing. Because we are small, we had to seek alternatives to supplement staff capabilities. We have partnered with the School of Urban and Public Affairs at UTA. Over the past five years, we have had some 200 students working on various projects. This semester, we have five student groups helping. Their research assistance allows the city staff to better plan for the future and identify opportunities that may otherwise not be apparent. The relationship with Tarrant County has been instrumental in our street and drainage work. We are able to leverage our funds with county funds to double the improvements to our streets. I cannot say enough positive things about Commissioner Andy Nguyen, Jeni McGarry, Randy Skinner, Patricia Ward, Lisa McMillan and others that have contributed to Kennedale?s success. Certainly my experience in economic development helped with the development of the TownCenter, the opening of QuickTrip, and the ongoing efforts to redevelop Oak Crest. Plus my general experience, I believe, has positively contributed to the park improvements, street construction, and staff development.

How do you see your role in city government ? not the day to day activities but what do you think a city manager?s overall job is?
? ? ?My job fundamentally is to assist the city council in articulating their vision for the community and providing a strategy to accomplish their vision. A great example is the strategic plan that was done in 2008 ? Imagine Kennedale 2015. In this case, residents, advisory board members, and council members came together to identify Kennedale?s desired future and outcomes. My role then is to organize the staff and establish priorities to accomplish that vision. In doing so, I assist the city council in finding collaborative opportunities with Tarrant County, Arlington, Fort Worth, Mansfield, Forest Hill, Grand Prairie, TxDOT, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments; all of which serve to expand or improve services, consistent with the strategic plan, to our residents.

Where does Kennedale go from here?

? ? ?Kennedale?s location at the intersection of I-20, I-820, and US 287 presents a wonderful opportunity. As a community, we need to add residential development in order to improve the financial stability long-term. We have worked hard on improving the efficiency within the organization and have two other initiatives underway: utility meter reading/utility billing and jail operations. The added residential development will enable the community to gain additional retail businesses that add to the overall quality of life. The added tax base will also allow us to spread overhead costs over a larger population. The city council is working on expanded housing opportunities and involving landowners, Tarrant County, Tarrant County College, and the Tarrant county Health District. The restoration of Village Creek is an exciting opportunity to create an icon at the city?s entrance, enhance water quality in Lake Arlington, and create water based recreational opportunity for our residents. Village Creek will only be possible through a joint effort by Kennedale, Arlington, the Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and the Trinity River Authority.?
You can contact Mr. Hart by email [email protected] or call?817-985-2100
More about Bob Hart can be found on the City of Kennedale webstite at


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