Paul Waddell / Courtesy photo
Local attorney Paul Waddell is running for City Council to represent west Fayetteville this year.
Waddell, 34, hopes to take the Ward 4, Position 2 seat currently held by Kyle Smith, who is running for election to keep his seat for the next four years. He’ll also face challengers Adam Fire Cat and Holly Hertzberg.
Waddell said he worries about infill building on the west side of town, particularly when it leads to traffic congestion and threatens the safety of neighborhoods.
“There is development happening all over which is great so long as it doesn’t encroach and overwhelm existing infrastructure, neighborhoods, and businesses,” he said.
He said more annexation should take priority over increasing density.
“I think expanding the boundary and perimeter lines is something Fayetteville should consider if we continue to see growth like we are expecting,” Waddell said. “I don’t think it’s best for Fayetteville residents to be told we have to make room for all these people and we are going to make that our top priority rather than the best interest of the existing neighborhoods, business, and infrastructure.”
Ward 4 should have more parks amenities, said Waddell, and suggested Markham Hill because of its existing trails, forest areas, meadows, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
If elected, he said he’ll fight for further preservation of Markham Hill, specifically the areas owned by Specialized Real Estate that have not yet been developed as part of the company’s plans to build a neighborhood in the area.
Waddell said the council’s recent decision to accept grant money to fund the area drug task force was the right choice, but removing the resolution from the consent agenda to spur discussion was justified.
“I heard some of the residents’ concerns about the (police) department’s lack of transparency,” said Waddell. “If we are going to fund departments with our tax dollars, then there needs to be a degree of transparency in order to uphold accountability.”
Ward 4 contains a large portion of west Fayetteville, including Razorback Stadium, Holt Middle School, Holcomb Elementary School, and the Boys & Girls Club of Fayetteville.
The election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Profile: Paul Waddell
Position sought: Ward 4, Position 2
Residency: About fifteen (15) years
Employment: Self-employed at the Law Office of Paul V. Waddell, P.A., a general law practice
Education: Juris Doctorate, University of Arkansas School of Law; Bachelor in Finance, University of Arkansas
Political Experience: First time running for public office
Meet the Candidates
The following candidates are running for election this year. All candidates were sent a request for more information about their candidacy. Responses are posted in the order they’re received.
What made you decide to seek election to the council? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
I have entered this election to be a voice and part of the conversation with local government regarding proposals and issues in Fayetteville. Like many of the residents, I came to Fayetteville to get my undergrad degree, fell in love with the area and never left. I want to do everything I can to keep the city’s residents thriving, safe, and happy.
Traffic, Development, and Safety:
I see all the neighborhoods off Wedington and Porter Drive area (west side of Ward 4), exploding with residential growth. I know a lot of Ward 4 residents are concerned about traffic congestion. A traffic study and resolution is needed for these roads especially if that area continues to grow. During rush hour, these roads become overwhelmed and I see traffic lining up on the shoulder of Interstate 49 to exit onto Wedington Drive. It’s simply unsafe. I would propose requiring future commercial developments be required to have a turning-lane into the entry of their proposed development to try to help with traffic flow on the roads that are seeing rapid growth and that already struggle with traffic congestion. I want smart growth for Fayetteville. I want the development of Fayetteville to be in line with the city’s 2050 Guiding Principles of naturally beautiful city, ecosystem preservation, well-maintained infrastructure and facilities, greater ease of transportation mobility, safe and fun city in which to live.
I worry about infill building and affordable housing within Ward 4. Affordable housing means something different to every person. I want every person in Fayetteville to have affordable housing but not at the expense of encroaching and overwhelming existing neighborhoods. I would consider annexation. I think expanding the boundary and perimeter lines is something Fayetteville should consider if we continue to see growth like we are expecting in the city’s 2040 Plan which forecasts more than 500,000 by 2050 in Washington County. I think the city needs a new 2030 Plan, that doesn’t make infill the highest priority. There is development happening all over which is great so long as it doesn’t encroach and overwhelm existing infrastructure, neighborhoods, and businesses. Diversified housing units like single-family units and multi-family units should be made available as the city continues to grow but not at the expense of overwhelming existing infrastructure and neighborhoods. If Ward 4 cannot keep up with supply and demand in terms of housing, then the city should consider annexation and continue expanding the boundary lines. Or, the city should reconsider building-up restrictions on a case by case basis. I don’t think it’s best for Fayetteville residents to be told we have to make room for all these people and we are going to make that our top priority rather than the best interest of the existing neighborhoods, business, and infrastructure. I would prefer quality growth over quantity. I don’t want to continue to infill Fayetteville just for the sake of growth. However, I don’t want to see Fayetteville left in the dust and watch other NWA cities thrive over Fayetteville. I don’t want business opportunities and medical centers like Highland Oncology to go else where. I want smart growth.
I think that affordable housing is important especially as this area is full of recent graduates who are first time home buyers. I hope to offer all Fayetteville residents diversified housing options like low-income, middle income, and high income housing.
Recreation, Entertainment, and Revenue:
I want to propose more amenities for Fayetteville. I hope to create a partnership or license deal with the University to make better use of existing facilities when the students are away. In Ward 4, we have the Football Stadium, Bud-Walton Arena, and Track stadium. These are multi-million dollar facilities that are only used a few times a year and usually sit empty during the summer. In the past, the football stadium usually hosts only five razorback football games a year. We could use those spaces to bring concerts and more sporting events. There wouldn’t be additional development costs to Fayetteville residents since these stadiums have existing facilities like bathrooms, parking, jumbotrons, and audio equipment. Those stadiums can host large gatherings and could provide recreation, entertainment, and revenue for all of Fayetteville residents. To me it feels like a waste of space to see the these facilities sit empty. The University has opened the door to their facilities for Wal-Mart shareholders, and can do so again for Fayetteville residents.
The Ward 4 area lacks the caliber of parks that the rest of Fayetteville residents enjoy like Gulley, Wilson, and Veteran’s Park. I want to continue diversifying our park amenities. I think each of Fayetteville’s parks provide a little something different to each person. Centennial Park providing world class biking amenities. Kessler park providing multi-sporting amenities like soccer, baseball, mountain biking. Wilson park providing amenities like tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, and beautiful gardens. Veteran’s park providing amenities like volleyball, lake activities and biking. In order to avoid overwhelming these existing parks, Ward 4 needs their on special place. I believe wholeheartedly that Markham Hill could be that sanctuary for Ward 4 and all of Fayetteville. The Markham Hill area already has existing trails and parking, and offers so much more that other Fayetteville parks cannot offer because of its expansiveness, history, and location. The Markham Hill area is a treasure that should be preserved and made accessible for all of Fayetteville’s residents. Keeping with the idea of diversifying park amenities and not overwhelming existing public spaces in Fayetteville, the Markham Hill area could offer an intact, mature forest that has existing parking, trails, meadows, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The Markham Hill area has sentimental value to all of the patrons who have attended milestones in life such as weddings at Pratt Barn, attended graduation parties, and other events on that hill. Fayetteville’s track team has trained there for decades. The area has abundant and diverse wildlife and known Native American sites. Markham Hill is a treasure and a special area that could provide so much for Fayetteville. I recognize the developers of Markham Hill have land rights and need to be fairly compensated if they are willing sell. I will strive to encourage the preservation of the remainder of Markham Hill especially regarding phase 2 and 3 of the development project (approximately 136 acres).
The developers deserve recognition of their voluntary, signatory to a conservation easement of approximately 50 acres near Interstate-49. It is incredibly generous for them to commit to preserving and opening access of that acreage for Fayetteville residents. However, that is not the cherished parts of Markham Hill that have the sentimental value, history, and tree canopy with existing trails that are so well-maintained that they could be handicap accessible or stroller friendly. I will push for the preservation and public access of phase two and three of their development plans. I consider Markham Hill a park with amenities that could provide so much recreation for families, students, and visitors of Fayetteville.
I recognize that you can’t keep every single person happy while serving on city council. I know there will be things I say or do that people have strong feelings about. I will do everything I can to give deference to the residents of the neighborhood where the proposal is occurring. I want Ward 4 residents to know that I am for smart growth. That I want to make use of existing facilities to provide more recreation, entertainment, and revenue for the city. That I want Fayetteville residents to feel safe in their community. That I have the best interest for Fayetteville.
Is there anything in particular that drove you to reside in Ward 4? How would you describe that part of town?
I love living in Ward 4. For me, it’s like living in the country but with all the amenities of being in the city. You have all the wildlife, forests, and natural beauty that Fayetteville has to offer. You have entertainment through all the University’s sporting events. You have restaurants, grocery stores, gyms, etc. It’s a part of Fayetteville that is truly special.
I have strong ties to Ward 4. I have lived on both sides of Interstate 49, the West side of Ward 4 off Salem Dr, and the East side of Ward 4 in the University Heights area. I have lived the majority of my adult life all in the Ward 4 area.
Which recent council decision(s) do you agree or disagree with?
I agree with the city’s pilot program plans ‘micro street closure’ on block avenue. I think it’s great that the city is willing to experiment with the idea of allowing outdoor seating in parking spaces for businesses in that area. I think that the pilot program has good intentions and shows the city’s ability to adapt to weird times and it willingness to help accommodate businesses effected by capacity restrictions due to Covid-19.
I was privileged to post my comments after reading Adam Fire Cat and D’Andre Jones’s articles. Specifically, I agree with candidate, Adam Fire Cat’s concerns about fiscal responsibility and that the city must manage a budget. Also, I agree with candidate, D’Andre Jones’s comments about equity and inclusion for everyone and criminal justice reform. I think each of them genuinely care about Fayetteville and raised many great points. I consider my self open-minded and always trying to listen to good ideas and concerns to help Ward 4.
I agree with the city’s decision to fund the drug task force; however, I heard some of the residents’ concerns about the department’s lack of transparency. If we are going to fund departments with our tax dollars, then there needs to be a degree of transparency in order to uphold accountability. I heard a few ask why this was not on the city’s consent agenda, but I think Kyle Smith made the decision to pull it from the consent agenda, not because he opposed funding but more so to allow input from all of our city. I agree and appreciated his decision in that regard.