Buchholtz takes reins as Spring Lake Park’s administrator

Spring Lake Park has a new city administrator.

Dan Buchholtz
Dan Buchholtz

Daniel Buchholtz assumed the role and responsibilities Sept. 18 after Barb Nelson retired, ending an 18-year stint as administrator and 34 years as an employee of Spring Lake Park.

Buchholtz worked under Nelson for the past year as assistant city administrator, a position created as part of a succession plan.

When he interviewed for the assistant position, Buchholtz impressed Mayor Cindy Hansen. “He seemed a little nervous during the interview, which I really liked,” she said. “I felt that showed that with all that he had to offer, he still was humble and didn’t have a big ego – a perfect fit for our city.”

The council hired Buchholtz in August 2012 and Nelson began working part-time.

Nelson handled old business and Buchholtz began leading new projects, he said.

Notably, Buchholtz worked with the municipal liquor store manager to reorganize the business. Additionally, he cites the public works building project – the city is working to acquire the Cemstone building at 8502 Central Ave. – as one of his major tasks this past year.

In the coming months, Buchholtz is excited to go on business retention and expansion visits, he said.

He looks forward to hiring an executive assistant. The city has received 76 applications for the position and Buchholtz is in the process of narrowing the pool so that staff can conduct interviews shortly. The new executive assistant will likely start in November.

Before joining city staff, Buchholtz was administrator in Hanover for seven-and-a-half years.

The job in Spring Lake Park appealed to him because “it looked like a really great opportunity to grow in my skill and ability and I thought the community had been well-run in the past,” Buchholtz said. “It looked like a great place to lead.”

Although many skills from Buchholtz’s past experiences translate to his new role, Spring Lake Park is more than double the size of Hanover.

A large part of his job now is personnel management, he said, not the case in his previous position. He oversees and provides resources for city staff and presents information to the council to inform policy decisions as best he can, Buchholtz added.

There is no normal day for a city administrator. “That’s what’s so attractive” about the job, he said. “Every day is different.”

In his spare time, Buchholtz loves golfing and playing with his two young children, a seven-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. “We love to ride bikes and play outside,” he said.

He and his wife, Amy, a teacher at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, will celebrate 10 years of marriage this December.

The family resides in Buffalo.

Buchholtz sees himself in Spring Lake Park long term. “I really have enjoyed the culture here,” he said. “[I] really feel at home in Spring Lake Park.”

As the city grows and changes, “maintaining that small-town atmosphere in the middle of the Twin Cities” is one key to a successful future in Buchholtz’s eyes. Preserving the infrastructure and working with established and prospective businesses are also critical in the long run, he said.

“I think that I’m leaving the city in great hands,” Nelson said at her final city council meeting as administrator Sept. 16.

“I think Dan is going to do wonderful things, work with you well and move the city forward in the right direction.”

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com