As the City of Fayetteville pushes forward on big picture plans for their new city hall and surrounding green space, they are reaching out to the county to discuss ways to create connectivity between the two government offices.
At Thursday night’s County Board of Commissioners meeting, Brian Wismer, Downtown Development Director for the City of Fayetteville, pitched the county on early plans to enhance connectivity for the city hall project involving roads around the county offices and the library.
Wismer noted that the city is in the early planning stages and still looking at all possibilities and wanted to reach out to the county to see if the idea was worth investigating further.
“We want to create multiple new ways to get from point A to point B, namely 54 and 85, so we’re trying to expand our downtown grid,” said Wismer. “The goal is to establish connectivity in as many points as possible.”
As plans have been fleshed out, the city now thinks they will be able to use the old gymnasium and bus barn that are on the old Board of Education property.
“They weren’t in the original plan,” said Wismer. “Now, we’re excited about being able to preserve some of these older structures that are there.”
Commissioner Eric Maxwell said he was unlikely to vote for any firm cooperation as long as the city was still supporting plans for a mixed-used development south of city hall that would include 270 apartments. He said he had given Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson his blessing for the overarching project, but not any links to apartments.
“I said, ‘Mayor, I have no problem with that. It’s the apartments that I have a problem with,’ and it doesn’t look like anybody really cares from Fayetteville how many apartments they put back there. All it’s going to do is jam up Beauregard, it’s going to jam up 85, it’s going to jam up 54,” said Maxwell. “That’s the problem that I have with saying that I want to work with you because it doesn’t appear that the city wanted to work, at least with me, because I told them I didn’t want the apartments back there, but I don’t think anybody heard me.”
Wismer defended the apartments as a key portion of the vision for a walkable downtown.
“We want to activate this park space as much as possible so that it doesn’t just sit there vacant during the week,” said Wismer. “The hope is having people living there. Having commercial activity will help to activate that park space a little bit more.”
With the commissioners’ blessing, albeit a mixed blessing, county staff will work with the city to further develop the plan.