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New Buffalo selects new city manager

New Buffalo selects new city manager

NEW BUFFALO — Darwin Watson has been chosen the new city manager.

He’s replacing Dave Richards, who died in December from COVID-19.

Watson, 53, was city manager in Benton Harbor for five years until 2019 and has been involved in real estate, development and consulting work ever since.

He said he was attracted to the job because of what he considers the city's untapped potential.

Coming Sunday, see a patrol with Valparaiso Police Lt. John Patston in the latest Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops installment.

“I want to be a part of making it the gem I know it can be,” he said.

Watson said he has some ideas for creating a more year-round economy, but wants to know what community leaders and residents want and the strategies they might have before opening his playbook.

He said New Buffalo has a “big city component” and small town atmosphere that draws people here from places like Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

The city’s population of about 2,500 rises to close to 20,000 during the summer because of its lakefront and downtown.

“How do we capture on the quaintness of New Buffalo, the coziness of New Buffalo, but also make it a place that people just want to come and see year-round?” Watson asked.

He said his experience should be a good fit in New Buffalo, where aging infrastructure in areas like water and sewer are a concern.

“You can’t just put something in the ground or lay a road for it to decay then try to fix it all at one time," he said. "If you want to add residents, you got to make sure you have infrastructure to support it.”

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