The city of Conway has a new planning director after Bryan Patrick retired on Dec. 31.

James Walden was introduced to the community during a reception at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Walden will oversee planning, including the development of plans and programs for the utilization of land and physical facilities, spokesman Bobby M. Kelly III said.

"James brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. The planning director is vitally important to the city as we plan for our future growth and development. I'm looking forward to seeing progress under his leadership," Mayor Bart Castleberry said.

Walden previously worked for Garver, an engineering, architectural and planning firm. He was the urban planning manager for Garver and told the Log Cabin Democrat on Wednesday that he was excited about his new role with the city of Conway.

"It's different but I am excited for the challenge," he said.

Castleberry had praise for the longtime outgoing director as well as Walden.

He said that in Patrick's 20 years working for the city, he "did a tremendous job" and was "difficult to replace."

Walden's projects while he was with Garver garnered him awards from the Arkansas chapter of the American Planning Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies/Arkansas.

Castleberry also praised the search committee members for "finding the right person to best serve the people of Conway."

The search committee members included Johnny Adams, Amy Whitehead, Isaac Sims, Jeff Standridge, John Nabholz, and Denise Perry.