Glenn Rodden spent his first two days as Baldwin City administrator meeting his staff and well-wishers from the community.
That’s fine with Rodden, who said he had an open-door policy, despite his office being behind a locked door leading to the second floor of Baldwin City Hall.
“I have no problem with that,” Rodden said of drop-ins. “If I’m here in the office, it’s not a problem. I can come downstairs to meet with someone if I have to.”
Beloit Mayor Tom Naasz said Rodden’s accessibility was one of his strengths. Rodden was city administrator at Beloit for the past seven years. He previously had been city administrator at Seneca and city manager of Holton.
“He’s very approachable,” Naasz said. “There was a steady stream of people wanting to see him.”
Rodden was also strong in financial management, Naasz said.
“He did a great job with budgets,” he said. “We had a surplus with all our funds this year.”
Rodden’s financial management and people skills served Beloit well as the city advanced a successful bond issue to construct a $3 million swimming pool, Naasz said.
“He brought the idea forward to form a committee of citizens,” he said. “He was the one who got the ball rolling on that. Glennn found a person to take the lead. He does a great job of managing people. He did a great job behind the scenes.”
The proven ability to take on large capital improvement projects and build public support for them was an important consideration of the Baldwin City Council during the search in November and December to find a city administrator to succeed Chris Lowe, who left in September to take a job in Monument, Colo. The city is considering capital projects to improve City Hall, construct a new police station, add a theater to the Lumberyard Arts Center, build a new public works headquarters and partner with the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, Baldwin school district and Baker University to build a community center.
Rodden said he anticipated the Baldwin City Council would start making decisions on those projects now that he is on the job.
“Some of that will probably be moved to the front burner,” he said. “It is really how much the community wants. You never do a community project on your own. I was lucky to have a lot of community support. If we can generate that here, we can make progress on some of those needs.”
There remains one unfilled desk in City Hall. The position of community development director has been vacant since June, when Collin Bielser resigned to take the job as city administrator of Fairbury, Neb.
“The city clerk (Laura Hartman) and I worked on a job description on hat Monday,” he said. “I look to get that vacancy posted this week.”
There will be several matters waiting on the new community development director’s plate. Mayor Marilyn Pearse is calling for the update of a number of city codes, including those regulating mobile home parks. The city also is starting an update of its comprehensive plan.
“That’s another thing I have experience with at Seneca and Holton,” Rodden said. “It takes time, but it’s very important. We need to get someone in here to get going on that right away.”
On a personal note, Rodden said he and his wife, Ruth, have found a home in Baldwin City, but won’t be able to move for another month.
In the meantime, Rodden will commute from Holton. His wife, a librarian at the Topeka/Shawnee County Public Library, remained in that community the past seven years while he spent his weeks in Beloit. His wife’s commute will be about 10 miles longer than her current daily drive from Holton, he said.
“I think this will be very nice for us,” Rodden said of the move to Baldwin City. “We got lucky, and found a house of someone who is downsizing a little bit.”