In addition to electing a mayor and mayor pro tem (see our earlier story here), the Mountlake Terrace City Council had another important piece of business to conduct during its remote Monday night meeting: honoring long-time Senior Planner Edith Duttlinger, who is retiring later this week after nearly 35 years with the city.
One by one, city staff and councilmembers offered words of appreciation to Duttlinger, who was lauded for her hard work and dedication to the city she served for nearly all of her professional career.
Duttlinger’s supervisor, Mountlake Terrace Community and Economic Development Director Christy Osborn, was overcome with emotion as she described her employee’s impact on the city.
“She’s one of a kind,” Osborne said. “Many community members and many members of council may not readily see what I call ‘the Duttlinger effect’ in their surroundings in the city, in their plans,” Osborn said. “But it’s everywhere you look. It’s in the landscaping, it’s in the critical areas, it’s in the buildings and the aesthetics that you see, it’s in all of your long-range plans and it’s in years of being a mentor to her fellow planners and co-workers.”
“Thank you for your leadership, your humor and your commitment to this community, and last but not least for making a difference that you can see in everything that we do,” Osborn added.
Three of the city’s councilmembers recalled their experiences working with Duttlinger when they served on the Mountlake Terrace Planning Commission prior to being elected to office, as well as the assistance she provided to them as councilmembers.
“It’s going to be really, really tough to see you go,” said Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright. “I know we are all going to miss you.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Wahl called Duttlinger “the rock in our planning department.” Wahl said Duttlinger is “very much the reason that many of us have so much faith in our staff and are able to trust and believe our staff when you bring something forward in a staff report. It’s because of the dedication and the knowledge and the work that you’ve put in to make Mountlake Terrace what it is today.”
Councilmember Doug McCardle thanked Duttlinger for “the education you provided me personally with planning and building codes, design standards and landscaping which eventually helped me be a better councilmember and have a better understanding of those nuances and how they affect the city.”
“Thank you for all you’ve endured during your career,” added Councilmember Laura Sonmore. “It’s been very impactful to the City of Mountlake Terrace. Just know that you have made a difference.”
As one of the council’s newer members, Steve Woodard said that he appreciated that whenever Duttlinger presented information to the council, “I always felt confident whenever you finished, that whatever I’m voting on is real, is accurate and is forward thinking beyond the moment.”
“I look forward to naming a street after you,” he added.
Duttlinger was then given an opportunity to speak: “I’m really touched,” she said. “My role was to be behind the scenes and to support the leadership in accomplishing what their visions were and that’s what I wanted to do. If you saw the fruits of that, thank you.”
Noting that she spent the bulk of her professional career in Mountlake Terrace, Duttlinger added: “I stayed because there was no reason for me to leave a community that was as warm and caring and committed to its future, at the same time respecting the unique characteristics of its residents.”
She also stressed that her work was not “a solo show. There’s a lot of people who contribute to the good work that’s being done here all the time. What’s really exciting to see is the coming decade for Mountlake Terrace, and I’ll probably come back and go ‘Wow, what happened here?’
“My heartfelt thanks to the City of Mountlake Terrace for a long and positive ride through such a significant part of my life,” she added.
The council then unanimously passed a resolution honoring Duttlinger “for her dedicated public service to the Mountlake Terrace community.”
In other business Monday night, the council heard a report from City Manager Scott Hugill on results from the city’s recently concluded survey that asked respondents how Mountlake Terrace should use the nearly $6 million it will receive in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Residents, businesses and organizations were asked to rank five categories of approved uses for the federal funds, and the top vote getter among the 120 responses was community public health and safety, Hugill said. He said he hopes councilmembers can discuss the ideas in more detail during an upcoming council retreat.
Hugill also said that he, Mayor Matsumoto Wright and Councilmember Doug McCardle met earlier Monday with state legislators in both the 32nd and 1st legislative districts representing Mountlake Terrace. Among the priorities they discussed were funding for Ballinger Park and the city’s Main Street project. In addition, Hugill noted that the governor has included $100 million in ARPA funds to help people pay their past-due utility bills. “Part of that is local governments and utilities can apply for that funding to help their customers, but you have to have be putting money in on your own at the local level,” he said. Since the city is already doing that, using ARPA funds through Volunteers of America, “we are set up right now to take advantage of that program. So we asked legislators to consider including that as part of the final (state) budget,” Hugill added. “That way we can hold back some of the ARPA dollars to use for local options as well.”
Finally, Hugill offered his thanks to the city’s public works, parks and facilities crews “for handling the snow and ice on the walkways and roads” during last week’s snowfall.
— By Teresa Wippel