The city of Watertown will soon be saying goodbye to its city administrator.
Luke Fischer, who has held the position for just over 3 years, submitted his letter of resignation to the city on Thursday, Oct. 10. Fischer is leaving to become the administrative services director with the city of Plymouth. His last day in Watertown will be Nov. 8.
“I’ve been really happy in Watertown,” Fischer said. “I’ve had a great council and staff that I’ve been able to work with, but this opportunity is a big step for me and one I’m really excited for.”
As administrative services director, Fischer will be in charge of a department that is responsible for assessing, communication, the clerk’s office, finance and IT. In leaving Watertown, a small rural community just outside the metro area, Fischer will be joining the staff of the state’s seventh-largest city, with a population of just over 70,000.
“The scope and complexity will certainly change, but I think I’m ready for the challenge,” Fischer said. “I’m only ready for the challenge because of the great opportunities I’ve had here, to be involved in projects at the level I’ve been able to be involved with them, and do some really unique and creative things.”
Fischer, who became Watertown’s city administrator in August 2010, said one of the things he’s most proud of from his time is Watertown is everything the city accomplished in the downtown area. During the last three years, the city completed the public portion of the downtown redevelopment project — the Lewis Avenue extension that creates a continuous path through downtown -— and also approved the private portion of that project, which is expected to be a senior housing facility.
The city also implemented a loan program that offers loan and grant money to local businesses for improvements to the exterior of their buildings, and has developed a new park that offers free wi-fi internet to residents. Fischer has also played a large role in beginning to explore the possibility of a broader wi-fi hotspot throughout downtown Watertown.
Fischer also said he’s proud of the progress made in the community park site.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the work we’ve been able to do downtown to make improvements, and also to the community park, to extend the infrastructure through the park and make that ready to be developed when the city is able,” he said.
Before coming to Watertown, Fischer served as the assistant to the city administrator in Delano. He also interned with the city of Eden Prairie in 2007, and interned throughout college with the city of Delano. Fischer has an undergraduate degree from St. John’s College in political science and a masters degree from Minnesota State in public administration.
Fischer said he was thankful to the Watertown community for welcoming and embracing him over the last three years.
“I just want to thank everyone in Watertown for trusting me to be part of the community in the role I was in,” he said. “Without the trust and that opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s been fun because of the relationships I’ve had with people in Watertown.”
Watertown Mayor Charlotte Johnson, who took office at the start of this year, said Fischer’s leadership would be missed by the city.
“As Watertown Mayor, I can say that Luke Fischer has been an excellent city administrator and has helped the city to progress in many ways,” Johnson said. “I’ll miss working with him on just about a daily basis.”
The Watertown City Council had a special meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to determine a strategy for hiring a new city administrator and procedures for operating without one in the interim.
“We’ll be challenged to find someone with all of (Fischer’s) qualifications, passion, and dedication,” Johnson said. “However, I have full confidence in our Watertown City staff, in our consultants, and in our dedicated City Council members and city commissioners that our citizens will continue to have the same quality services that they have in the past.”
Contact Matt Bunke at firstname.lastname@example.org