St. Louis Park City Manager Tom Harmening Announces Retirement
Tom Harmening has announced his retirement following a successful 17 years as city manager at the City of St. Louis Park.
“It is with some sadness but also excitement for the future that I announce I'm wrapping up my career as St. Louis Park’s city manager,” Harmening said. “St. Louis Park is a dynamic and forward-looking community and serving as its city manager has been an exhilarating and challenging experience and a true privilege.
“By working with the city council and staff, in partnership with the community, we have been able to accomplish much,” Harmening continued. “Despite challenges facing all communities during these difficult times, the organization is well positioned for the future and the time has now come for me to open the next chapter of my life to see what the future might hold.”
Harmening began his career with the City of St. Louis Park in 1995 as community development director. He was closely involved in the $160 million-dollar premier revitalization project at Excelsior and Grand, among other community renewal efforts and significant redevelopment and housing initiatives.
Since being appointed as city manager in 2004, the leadership he provided for staff, city council and the community led to many major accomplishments including:
- Redevelopment and transformation of the West End
- Achievement of a AAA bond rating
- Two successful community visioning initiatives
- EPA approval of an updated 30-year consent decree for the Reilly Tar & Chemical Corp. site
- Renovation, construction or reconstruction of all city facilities, most recently the new interpretive center at Westwood Hills Nature Center
- Creation and implementation of affordable housing policies and initiatives
- Numerous environmental initiatives including the creation and adoption of a climate action plan
- Approval and construction of Southwest Light Rail Transit
- Reconstruction of Highway 100
- Creation and implementation of intentional racial equity and inclusion efforts for the organization
In 2014, Harmening was recognized for his leadership and dedication when the League of Minnesota Cities awarded him their top honor for appointed officials, the James F. Miller Leadership Award.
“While there were many significant accomplishments in St. Louis Park over the past 26 years, what I am most proud of is the intentional and ongoing focus on our internal culture, which in turn has led to a high-functioning organization,” Harmening said. “As part of that, I’m proud of the outstanding staff we’ve brought into the city and the innovation, creativity and dedication they bring to their work every day in serving St. Louis Park.”
Before joining St. Louis Park, Harmening served as community development director for the City of Hopkins, planning director for the City of Hastings and city coordinator for the City of Watertown, Minn. where he began his career in 1982.
Harmening has offered to continue as city manager until a replacement is hired, although he does not plan to remain with the city past Aug. 1, 2021. In the coming weeks, the St. Louis Park City Council will be determining a plan for filling the city manager position.
“On behalf of the city council, residents and businesses in St. Louis Park, I want to thank Tom Harmening for his 26 years with the city,” St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano said. “Hardly a corner of our community hasn’t benefitted from Tom’s wisdom and guidance over the course of his career with St. Louis Park. From nationally recognized projects like Excelsior and Grand, to innovative parks and recreation programming, to racial equity, Tom has embraced the work of the council to improve the lives of our neighbors with dedication, caring and respect.
“While this change will be difficult, it presents an opportunity to gain fresh, new perspectives and continue St. Louis Park’s reputation as one of the most creative, forward thinking and equitable cities in our region,” Spano added. “On a personal level, I want to thank Tom for his support over the nine years I’ve served our city. His advice and support have been invaluable.”
While Harmening hasn’t determined exactly what post-city-manager life will look like, after 39 years of public service he plans to keep his options open while also making sure his time on the golf course, on his boat or with his family are given the attention they deserve.