As the Village of Wellington works to build a stronger, more resilient community that works for residents today and well into the future, understanding the big picture is an important character trait for leaders like Village Engineer Tom Lundeen.
Lundeen joined the Wellington team in 2016 and is looking forward to a long future supporting Wellington and its residents.
“I’m here to help protect the residents and their property,” explained Lundeen, who leads a dedicated crew of professionals. “I oversee the Engineering Department and the Public Works Department, which means I manage more than 100 employees.”
Lundeen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. After completing a degree in civil engineering, he moved to Florida in 1985 to find new challenges and career options.
“A friend lived down here and said, ‘Come on down, there’s plenty of jobs.’ Within three days, I had three job offers,” Lundeen recalled.
Over time, he gained a great deal of experience in both the public and private sectors, always looking for new ways to improve both his own knowledge and the infrastructure around him. Lundeen was involved in massive projects ranging from new bridges and roadways in Brevard County to raising U.S. Highway 1.
Before coming to Wellington, Lundeen was the engineer and deputy director for the Port of Palm Beach for many years.
“Working for the Port of Palm Beach was one of those jobs where you wake up every morning because you want to see what’s going to happen next,” Lundeen said. “I was working with electrical and structural engineers, building sea walls and bulkheads, managing paving and drainage.”
An avid scuba diver, Lundeen integrated his skills at work by completing more than 300 inspections underwater.
After a time, Lundeen was ready for something new, since he believes that change is not only inevitable, but also a good thing. He has known Village Manager Paul Schofield and Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes since his time with Palm Beach County, and the shift to Wellington has been a good fit.
“I’ve been in government for more than 29 years now, and it is a lot different,” Lundeen said. “I get excited when we get into a project. The system works, but it can always be improved.”
He gives most of the credit, though, to his teams in engineering and public works. Lundeen is proud to have a group of people who see the big picture, just like he does.
“There are some fabulous people who work here. I don’t think I could have hand-picked them any better,” Lundeen said. “Right now, everything is in place and working well in both departments. Public Works is filled with jacks of all trades, and masters of most of them. If an issue comes up, like a traffic problem, we can fix a road, put in a turn lane or design a traffic circle.”
He is especially proud of the work done by his fellow staff engineers. “Jonathan Reinsvold and Alyssa Dalloo are doing a fabulous job designing in house, saving us time and money,” Lundeen said.
The engineering department stays busy with a wide array of projects ranging from drainage improvements to permitting, and even altering the layout of congested intersections like South Shore Blvd. and Pierson Road.
“It’s one of those projects that you would feel good about,” Lundeen said.
The department has the plans in place for more than traffic concerns. There is another project meant to improve drainage in Wellington by removing some of the aging pipes and replacing them with two instead, to avoid choke points that get clogged by debris — especially after large storms.
“It’s not glamorous work, but if it’s not done, and we get a big storm, you are sure to hear about it,” Lundeen said. “For every project, no matter the size, I feel better because it’s done. We are doing our best to protect the community, one step at a time.”
Lundeen works hard, but he embraces that there is more to life than his career. He is still in close contact with the same friend who first convinced him to move to Florida. They work together on volunteer service projects of a very special nature.
“My friend got me into a project called Special Spaces. We fix up rooms for kids, and some of them are pretty intense,” Lundeen said. “I’ve worked on maybe five or six projects, the most recent being a three-year-old boy in Wellington battling leukemia.”
But when not helping in the community, Lundeen and his wife Michele would rather be outside adventuring, including riding motorcycles, kayaking and, of course, diving. “We take about one dive vacation a year,” Lundeen said. “My all-time favorites are Australia and Grand Turk Island.”
His appreciation for man-made structures sits well alongside his passion for nature. Lundeen’s family at home includes several rescued animals, and he even adopted a bird swept into his yard after Hurricane Frances.