PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend native Matt Klontz is leaving his job as public works director for the City of Sequim to take a position with the Port of Port Townsend, the port announced this week.
Klontz, 42, who grew up in Port Townsend, will be joining the port as its new director of capital projects and chief engineer, a position being vacated by Mike Love.
Klontz’s first day will be Nov. 1.
“Matt is a great fit for the port team,” said Eron Berg, port executive director.
“It’s hard to imagine a better fit than an experienced engineer and project manager who grew up right here in Port Townsend, coming back home to apply his expertise and experience at the port.”
For the past six years as Sequim’s city engineer, Klontz has brought his civil engineering skills to a variety of projects, including roads, water, sewer, parks and public facilities. Earlier this year, he was also named the city’s director of public works.
His outgoing annual salary in Sequim is $110,858. In Port Townsend, he will earn an annual salary of $127,000, Berg said.
Prior to his Sequim tenure, Klontz worked as an engineer on huge construction projects that included the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Washington state highways. In the late 2000s, he was transferred to Southern California to work on freeways, light rail and the expansion of the John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
Klontz and his wife Chiarra — also a Port Townsend graduate — decided to raise their family in a small town. He joined the Jefferson County Public Works Department for several years before he was hired in Sequim. The couple lives just outside of Port Townsend.
It’s been a good move, he said.
“For the first decade of my career, it was all mega projects,” Klontz said. “Once the concrete set, I was off to the next project. I was never there to see how it benefited the community. But at Sequim, I could see the benefit and get to know the community.
“Projects that were small and simple, like fixing a sidewalk, became some of the most rewarding projects because I knew the impact it had on people for the better.”
At the top of his list for the port are the rebuilt breakwater jetties for the Point Hudson Marina. While dates are fluid, Klontz is hopeful permits will be issued, funding contracts approved and the project will be underway next fall.
He also will take the lead role in the port’s stormwater system project at the Boat Haven, among others.
“I’m excited about it,” Klontz said of his new role. “It’s a really good fit for who I am as a person and an engineer. Even when I landed in Sequim, there was a backlog of projects, and they needed someone with a knack for delivering those. That’s something I’ve always been proud of: delivering projects, getting things done.”
In Sequim, one of his many projects included securing funding to refurbish Fir Street by Sequim Schools.
Klontz started with the city in October 2015 as the city engineer and assistant public works director. He was appointed public works director in April following the retirement of David Garlington.
Interim city manager Charisse Deschenes said administrative staff learned of Klontz’s decision late last week.
“We’re evaluating our options for recruiting a public works director now,” she said.
Deschenes said the new city manager, Matt Huish, who will start in November, should be involved in the recruiting and decision-making processes.
Klontz’s parents moved to Port Townsend from Olympia in 1986. A basketball player and track athlete, Klontz worked on the high school annual before he graduated from Port Townsend High School in 1998.
Klontz said he rediscovered his love for math and was a good fit for the engineering department while he attended Washington State University; he graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree.
Klontz returned to college to obtain a master’s degree in construction management in 2009, this time from the University of Washington.
“I’m both a Cougar and a Husky,” he said.
He and Chiarra have two sons, Silas, 13, and Arlo, 10, both of whom attend local schools. Chiarra works at Salish Coast Elementary School.
“My hope, when I land at the port, is to have the same contact with the community, the working boatyard and the tenants, to make improvements that benefit them and the port, now and into the future,” Klontz said.
Love, whom Klontz replaces, was hired in October 2020 after he served as assistant director of Mount Vernon’s Public Works Department.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]. Matthew Nash, also with the Sequim Gazette, contributed to this story.