Glenn Cutler, Port Angeles public works director, to retire
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Public Works and Utilities Director Glenn Cutler stands with a display at City Hall showing an aerial schematic diagram of the city’s combined sewer outflow project, one of the largest public works projects in Port Angeles’ history. Cutler plans to retire from his post this summer. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Public Works and Utilities Director Glenn Cutler, who oversaw a vigorous expansion and upgrade of the city’s infrastructure over the past decade and a half, is retiring this summer, he announced this week.

Cutler, who turned 62 in January, has been the city’s public works and utilities director since June 1999.

His last day will fall between June 21 and Sept. 21 to ensure a smooth transition to a new agency director, Cutler said Wednesday.

City Manager Dan McKeen said the city will start advertising for the position within 30 days.

Cutler said he may work part time after he and his wife, Linda, take some time off.

“There comes a time in your life when you make decisions on what you are doing in your life, and it’s time for us to leave city employment,” he said.

“It’s not like something bad happened.

“I’ve got my health,” he added.

“This is a decision my wife and I have made together.”

Cutler informed McKeen of his decision Monday.

“Over the last four years, he’s overseen numerous projects, more than I could even begin to list,” McKeen said Tuesday, adding that Cutler had told him last year he was planning to retire.

“One of Glenn’s strongest attributes is his ability to work as a team with other departments to provide the best outcomes, even when it wasn’t a public works issue,” McKeen added.

Among city staff, Cutler’s $133,082 salary is second only to McKeen’s $137,725.

This year, Cutler has overseen $88.7 million in operations and capital expenditures that include those that apply to running a city-owned electric utility, a rare responsibility for Washington cities.

His salary was increased in 2005 when the city Parks & Recreation Department was incorporated into Public Works and Utilities.

Parks and recreation was removed from public works’ purview in January.

There are no further plans for department reorganization, but the salary range for Cutler’s position will be re-evaluated, McKeen said.

McKeen said there is a “strong possibility” that there will be at least one applicant for Cutler’s job from within Public Works and Utilities.

“We’ll be looking at all options, including an open recruitment process that would open it up to outside candidates,” he said.

Cutler, a Jersey City, N.J., native, was 48 when he retired as a Navy captain — equivalent in rank and grade to a colonel in the Army — and moved to Port Angeles in mid-1999.

While in the Navy, Cutler, a civil engineer, traveled the world.

Before working for the city, he was the public works officer for Submarine Base Bangor, now Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, from 1995 to 1999 and regional facilities director for all Navy shore-based facilities in the Pacific Northwest from 1997 to 1999.

Cutler said his major accomplishments as public works director included overseeing the $16 million replacement of two Eighth Street bridges, the $30 million construction of a new water-treatment plant, the $1.5 million extension of sewer services to the city’s eastern urban growth boundary and the $1.1 million reconstruction of First Street downtown.

“We’ve had a robust program of investing in our infrastructure,” he said.

But the project Cutler is most proud of was started late last year and won’t be completed until he’s long gone: the $41.7 combined sewer overflow project.

Slated for completion in 2015, it’s the largest public works project in the city’s history.

It will keep backed-up stormwater and untreated sewage from flowing into Port Angeles Harbor, depositing the effluent instead into a 5 million-gallon tank on Rayonier’s former pulp mill property before the liquid waste is treated and released into the harbor.

According to the state Department of Ecology, the city annually lets about 32 million gallons of raw sewage and stormwater flow into the harbor.

“It will have an immediate and positive environmental impact on Port Angeles Harbor,” Cutler said, adding that existing infrastructure such as an industrial water line and the storage tank will be employed anew for the CSO project.

“It took a lot of people to get the project together and spanned a number of careers of people, and it’s the least-cost solution for the citizens,” Cutler said.

The project “will piss people off, but that’s life,” Cutler said, adding that some have suggested there are more cost-effective solutions.

“There have been detractors, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion,” Cutler said.

“This is my opinion.

“I think it’s a great project.”

Cutler noted that what he and his department do is integral to the well-being of the city and its residents, from keeping the power turned on to making sure drinking water is available to the public that is “clear and pleasing to the palate,” to having wastewater and sewage being properly treated.

As public works director, “you almost want to be taken for granted because things are working so well,” Cutler said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 06. 2013 5:17PM
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