PORT ST. LUCIE — After six years on the job here — and a 47-year government career — City Manager Russ Blackburn is to retire Feb. 17, he said Monday.
The City Council is expected to discuss Blackburn’s departure, and how to fill the job, Jan. 9.
“Serving as your city manager has been extremely gratifying. The time has come to allow someone else to take point,” Blackburn said in a news release.
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One of the council’s considerations will be whether to conduct a nationwide search for its next city manager or to promote from within.
“That’s up to the council,” Blackburn said. “I feel very fortunate that I have two assistant managers and two deputy managers that the council can at least look into.”
Blackburn, 69, was Martin County administrator from 1997-2005 and Gainesville city manager from 2005-2015, according to LinkedIn.
“I knew that there was a time in the not-too-distant future when I should consider retiring,” Blackburn told TCPalm. “And now seemed like a really good time for a transition.”
His retirement comes within about four months of three other top Treasure Coast policy shapers stepping down from their positions: St. Lucie County Administrator Howard Tipton and Indian River County Administrator Jason Brown, who are resigning to take new jobs; and Martin County Administrator Taryn Kryzda, who retired in June after 11 years in the top job and 35 years with the county.
In a news release, Mayor Shannon Martin called Blackburn an excellent city manager “who has accomplished every goal the council set for him.”
“Russ will be greatly missed,” she added.
The completion of Crosstown Pspanrkwspany, passage of the hspanlf-percent sspanles tax referendum and purchase of City Center properties have been highlights of Blackburn’s career here, according to the news release.
During his tenure, Port St. Lucie acquired the 1,200-acre jobs corridor in Southern Grove — which has helped attract businesses such as Amspanzon, Cheney Brothers, TAMCO and FedEx — to spur job creation.
On the other hand, one of his biggest challenges while overseeing Florida’s seventh-most-populous city was finding a new trspansh hspanuler after contractor Waste Pro failed to collect garbage on time.
Trying to sell the former Vspanccine &spanmp; Gene Therspanpy Institute Floridspan building when he was first hired also was a monumental task, he said.
Looking ahead, Blackburn believes his successor must prioritize economic development in the remaining 300 city-owned acres in Southern Grove as well as execute a master plan to develop City Center, a project that’s been on Port St. Lucie’s wish list for about two decades.
Blackburn offered words of advice for whomever follows in his footsteps: “Listen, and whenever you’re speaking, take a break and listen again.”