One of the most critical city staff positions in any municipality is that of the City Planner or Planning Director. More so in Lakeland considering that we are mostly a blank canvas in the middle of a comprehensive plan revision; a canvas that can still be filled with forest, but with intentionality and connectivity with trails. The City of Lakeland has had multiple planners in a short period of time and that lack of continuity did not make operations any easier for the previous City Manager Shane Horn. Now with new City Manager Michael Walker and new hires in several positions, the city looks to be on the right track with the hiring of Paul Luker as the Planning Director.
Paul Luker brings many years of experience to the table, serving as Planning Director for West Memphis, Arkansas for 23 years. He recognizes our strengths as a naturally beautiful town with intentions on smart growth, strong architectural standards, and conservation. Some of his family also live in Lakeland, which gives him some familiarity as to the uniqueness of our town. One project that he is most proud of is the Big River Park and the $34 million Big River Crossing that opened in 2016. The experience and skill involved with this project required tremendous coordination and planning, a mindset that will hopefully bear fruit as we endeavor to create a fresh roadmap for Lakeland in the coming years.