By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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“We’ve had some quite controversial projects,” Cutler quipped Monday.
“I know some of my admirers are probably here. . . . If you throw tomatoes, make sure they’re really rotten.”
From the $42 million combined sewer overflow project to annual tree trimming, Cutler breezed through a series of projected slides depicting the city’s ongoing and upcoming public works and utilities projects.
Cutler, 62, has been the city’s public works and utilities director since June 1999. He will retire this summer in good health.
Cutler will be replaced by Craig A. Fulton, who has been serving as the director of facilities at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Fulton will start as public works and utilities director Aug. 14.
“I’ll have approximately a two week-plus turnover with him, then I’ll be saying farewell to the staff of the city, the citizens here and my position as director,” Cutler said.
“But my wife and I will be staying in the community, and we hope to see you around.”
Cutler’s wife, Linda, was among a crowd of more than 50 who attended the chamber luncheon at the Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel.
The ongoing, multi-phase combined sewer overflow project is the largest civil works project in the city’s history.
“It has some immediate environmental impacts — positive — to get sewage out of the [Port Angeles] Harbor to help the environment out there, as well as reutilization of existing infrastructure, saving the community millions of dollars,” Cutler said.
Once completed in 2015, the combined sewer overflow, or CSO, project will keep backed-up stormwater and untreated sewage from spilling into the harbor.
The effluent will instead go into a 5-million-gallon tank on Rayonier Inc. property before the waste is treated at a city plant next door.
Other city projects that Cutler addressed included the $5 million replacement of the Lauridsen Boulevard bridge over Peabody Creek, the $16 million to $20 million stabilization of an eroding bluff near the Port Angeles landfill, the $650,000 rehabilitation of the 94-year-old E Street reservoir and the $400,000 replacement of a sewer trestle at Eighth and Francis streets.
He ended his presentation by apologizing for the “continuous disruption” caused by projects in the downtown area.
“My staff and I have had our challenges minimizing the inconveniences to businesses downtown,” Cutler said.
“It’s been painful at times. I certainly know that.”
Cutler said the City Council has invested millions of dollars into the downtown core, which in turn created opportunities for downtown business owners to invest and “try new things.”
“For a number of businesses, it’s been a real challenge to stay in business, and some have not made it — and I’m sorry,” Cutler said.
“But when I look back, I’m amazed at what’s actually been accomplished.”
Cutler cited improvements to the Conrad Dyar Fountain area at First and Laurel streets, new sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, the repaving of First and Front streets, stormwater improvements and new street lights and traffic signals.
Downtown merchant Edna Petersen of Necessities and Temptations store and a former city councilwoman said she and Cutler “have walked through every one of these projects.”
“I haven’t always loved them, but you’ve always been a gentleman and treated me with courtesy,” Petersen told Cutler.
Before working for the city, Cutler 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.
Fulton’s annual salary will be $120,513, which is about 9 percent lower than Cutler’s current salary of $133,082 per year.
The city’s Public Works Department has nearly 100 employees with an $84 million budget and 12 separate units, including an electric utility formerly known as City Light.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.