Bill Fiander, the City of Topeka’s Director of Planning and Development, announced Friday that he’s retiring from the City of Topeka and pursuing a new opportunity in the community. Fiander will join the staff at Washburn University as a faculty lecturer in the Political Science Department developing the public administration program and next generation of public sector leaders.
Fiander came to Topeka as the city’s first neighborhood planner, hired by former Topeka Mayor Joan Wagnon. He’s served in various leadership roles during his more than 25-year tenure, including the last 10 years as director of what is now the Planning and Development Department. Fiander oversaw growth of a department from 12 to 44 employees, which now encompass the city’s planning, zoning, building, and affordable housing functions.
“We are indebted to Bill for his incredible service to Topeka over the last two decades. Bill was a trailblazer who brought Topeka things such as our neighborhood health map, smart growth planning for infill and downtown development, greater citizen participation in new development projects, ‘complete streets’ for pedestrians and bicyclists, a new online permitting process, and community-wide design standards for commercial areas and signs. Bill is leaving big shoes to fill and while we will miss him at the city, I couldn’t be happier for him and our community with his new role,” said Topeka City Manager Stephen Wade.
“What a privilege it’s been answering the call to serve Topeka. It gave me everything a young planner dreamed of who wanted to make a difference in the plight of our central cities. There’s great peace not only looking back at how far we’ve come, but also looking ahead at where we can go with our next generation of planning, development, and housing professionals under the City Manager’s leadership. I’m honored to pass that torch while still answering a new, but similar call to serve,” said Fiander.
Fiander’s last date at the city will be January 13. Rhiannon Friedman, the city’s Director of Development and Economic Growth, will serve as the Interim Director of Planning and Development.