OLDSMAR — Bruce Haddock is stepping down from his role as city manager, a position he has held for 31 years. As the city begins its new fiscal year on Sunday, Haddock will take on a temporary role as special projects manager clearing the way for Al Braithwaite, currently the director of administrative services, to become the city's sixth manager. Haddock's first official day of retirement will be Feb. 1.
Haddock is a native Floridian, born in Jacksonville and raised in Starke. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Florida and a master's in business administration from University of Tampa.
Haddock, 66, who is one of the state's longest serving city managers, admits he did not expect to stay with Oldsmar for three decades.
"I didn't plan it this way of course, but it is nice the way it worked out,'' he said. "I would have to count all their pictures in council chambers but I think I've served with seven mayors.''
Matt Spoor, the city manager of Safety Harbor, first met Haddock in 2007.
"When I came to my role here, then as interim city manager, the first phone call I got was from Bruce Haddock. Before that, I had never heard of him,'' Spoor said. "But he has become both a friend and an incredible resource for me, not just for city business but on how to lead people.''
When Jerry Beverland, a former mayor and longtime member of City Council, thinks of Haddock, he thinks of "a wise person.''
""There have been so many things we've done together. We paved seven miles of streets. We also have stopped a lot of development by making park land including the 70 acres of Brooker Creek south of the beach at Mobbly Preserve,'' said Beverland, 82. "Bruce has an ability to get things done and I admire how he can work with people, especially me.''
We recently caught up with Haddock in his office on Sept. 21.
How have you managed to hang in there all these years?
I have been asked that before, and my answer is prayer. That is the answer. There are things that could be expounded upon, but that is the way. There is a lot more to it than what happens at a City Council meeting. The meetings are in our case twice a month, but the operations go on 24-7.
What is the best thing you are leaving Al Braithwaite and conversely what will be his biggest challenge?
I think that Oldsmar still has a definite sense of community that you don't find everywhere, to some degree it's more challenging to establish and maintain that in Florida. Right now it is at an all time high. One reason for it is how we celebrated with the Centennial last year. So many people were involved in that, and it was a real bonus in helping to maintain community spirit.
The biggest challenge is finance related. Expenditures are growing at a higher rate than revenue. Revenue is flat and that's generally true for cities in Florida. Expenses go up. I think most people are aware of that.
When it comes to city projects you oversaw, what one are you most proud of?
I'm not sure I can rank them as first and second, but there are two. One is our parks and preserves and open space. The area of the city is 10 square miles. A third of the area falls under park preservation and open space. When I came, I think we had three. Canal Park was there, but no athletic fields, and we also had R.E. Olds Park and Sheffield Park, but now we have 10.
The second thing would be developing Oldsmar's own water system. It took a long time to develop. There were environmental concerns and planning and engineering took awhile. It was the largest public works project we had ever done. It started in about 1998 and the total cost was about $20 million.
Let's give Oldsmar a human lifespan. What time of life is he or she in?
Well, I wouldn't say infancy or childhood. I would put it as a young adult, either late teens or 20s. I think the best is yet to come. Oldsmar has a really good future. We have a lot of employers which is a great asset. Of course (Nielsen Media Research) is the largest employer, and it has been that way for 10 years, and they are very community minded there. An interesting fact is there are more people who work in Oldsmar than actually live here, and that is a real plus for the city because we have a significant commercial and industrial tax base for the size of the population we have.
So what would you like to see this young adult do next?
Well, I'd like to see the redevelopment district advance further. It's got a good start. The hotels are here. We have a lot of restaurants, but part of what is needed is some increased density and people. I'd also like to see the redevelopment area become more walkable. We have a good network of sidewalks and trail systems. What I would see as the goal is to have Oldsmar be more of a place where you do not have to get in a car so much, one where you can walk to places you need to go — stores, the hair salon, restaurants, and even walk to work if you are lucky.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.