Zeuli retires after 40 years with the city
Tom Zeuli's roots in Hudson run deep.
He was born and raised in town, and his great-grandfather's farm was located where Hudson High School is now.
As the Parks and Public Works Director for the city for the last 40 years, Zeuli has helped the town he loves grow.
A passion for the city kept him here for all those years of service.
"I've always had a vested interest in the city," Zeuli said.
Now he's finishing his final days working for the city before his retirement in September.
Zeuli started with the city in 1978 in the parks department. He later moved to public works, working in the city garage before becoming director of both departments about 10 years ago after serving as the interim director.
"That was a big step for me," Zeuli said.
The new position came with challenges, like managing the budget, something Zeuli hadn't done before. But it also came with new opportunities in aspects he was familiar with, like planning smaller street projects or the sidewalk program.
Forty years saw a lot of transitions, and years where he had to get very creative with the budget, Zeuli said. One of those years prompted the department to switch the city-owned street lights to LED lighting, saving energy and maintenance costs. The success of the city lights led Xcel Energy to do a statewide conversion, Zeuli said, that started here in Hudson.
It wasn't the first time Hudson's public works and parks department was a leader under Zeuli.
The city became one of the first in the state to implement the gravel bed system, holding trees in the bed from spring until fall planting to enhance their roots.
The city also created tree treks, three now in town, using tree inventory software.
The work by the parks department and the urban forestry board led to the city being named a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation.
"The tree program has been another one of my passions," Zeuli said.
The city's parks have also been one of his priorities. The various parks in the city have seen a lot of updates and improvements, and the city has seen the creation of a new park, Weitkamp Park.
Zeuli said he enjoys seeing people enjoy these parks.
Other projects through the year have included MS4 stormwater requirements, street maintenance projects, changes to snow plowing techniques and an update of the public works vehicle fleet that made jobs more efficient.
Through all the projects, Zeuli was able to work with community members and organizations meeting new people along the way, from the Chamber of Commerce to Hudson Boosters to the Phipps.
"You get to know people, and they're all still working for the betterment of the city," Zeuli said.
That's what he'll miss most when he retires — the people.
He said it's been a pleasure working with various council members and mayors over the years.
"They all have a passion for the city. They all want what's best but they're all different," he said.
Zeuli said he's especially grateful to the crew in public works and parks, his secretary Deb Andrews, all the other department heads and city staff, and his family as well.
"I was just a small part of the puzzle," Zeuli said.
Even as he's preparing to leave the department, Zeuli is still looking at the future for his department.
The city will continue to grow, he said, and the public works and parks department with it.
"I think the city's in good shape," Zeuli said.
An open house for Zeuli will be held from 1-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at city hall.