After serving Bonney Lake for more than a decade and being involved in public works for more than 40 years, Bonney Lake’s Public Works Director Daniel Grigsby is bowing out and welcoming retirement.
“As I wrap things up and think about what’s happened over the past 12 years, the city has accomplished a lot from a Public Works perspective,” Grigsby said. “That’s always something to feel good about, when you leave a job knowing you’ve left it in better condition than you received it in.”
Grigsby will be officially retired Thursday, June 30, after a public retirement ceremony at the Bonney Lake Senior Center at 4:30 p.m.
Mayor Neil Johnson said his relationship with Grigsby grew throughout his tenure as a city council member and more when he became mayor.
“I could always count on Dan to get me the needed information or follow through on any task,” Johnson said. “Dan will be missed. He definitely represented Bonney Lake well and created a more professional department.”
From the Navy to Bonney Lake
Grigsby started his public works career in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps from 1975 to 1996, ending his service as a commander in the corp. From there, he was the Public Works Operations Manager in Ogden, Utah, from 1996 to 2004, which was when he moved to Bonney Lake and was hired by former city mayor Robert Young.
When Grigsby first arrived in Bonney Lake, the city’s population was about 13,000. Over the last twelve years, the population has grown to nearly 20,000, he said.
“That’s a large growth in population, and what that translates to is a large growth in public works infrastructure,” Grigsby said. “That was one of the things I liked best about working in Bonney Lake, is I was able to do public works maintenance and repairs, but also help expand the city.”
While at his post, Grigsby helped the city expand its water and sewer services to keep up with the ever-expanding population.
“We’ve expanded our water supply sources by four million gallons per day,” he said. “We also build a 15 million gallon peaking storage tank, which during the hottest weekends in the summer, allows us to depend on that instead of buying water from Tacoma.”
And for sewer, Grigsby and the city helped fund the completion of the sewer treatment expansion in Sumner, and the increased capacity should help the city deal with growth through 2035, he said.
To Grigsby, these sorts of projects are about sustainability – to be able to maintain the existing infrastructure in a responsible way to allow for city growth. He compared Public Works maintenance to the roof of a house. “It’s never going to get any younger, and the longer you wait to maintain it, the more expensive it’s going to be,” he said.
And while Grigsby was involved in many of the larger projects the city has tackled over the last decade, many of his favorite projects may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, but add to the overall ascetic of the city today.
“When I first arrived here, the street signs were very old, small green signs that you couldn’t read,” he said. “We were able to replace every one of those with a larger, more readable signs with the Bonney Lake logo on it and street addressed.”
The signs are also color coded – green for a public street, blue for private street and brown noting historical significance.
Sidewalks were also a big deal to Grigsby, and during his time as director, the city has doubled the amount of sidewalks available to residents, he said.
After retiring, Grigsby plans to expand his role of grandpa to his four grandchildren.
“I’m going to be chief cook and bottle washer at home, because my wife will continue to work,” Grigsby said.
Grigsby also wants to see more of the U.S. and visit the country’s national parks.
Throughout his life, Grigsby has also been involved in the Masons and hopes to get more involved again.
The future of Bonney Lake Public Works
There are going to be several changes coming the city’s Public Works department, from moving and upgrading the building to restructuring the department.
“Physically we’re living in buildings that were adequate with a population of about seven or eight thousand, and now we’re at 20 [thousand],” he said. “The plan is to build a new Public Works Center at 96th Street.”
Design for Phase 1 of this project has already begun, Grigsby said. Phase 1 relates to building storage space for bulk material and heavy equipment on 96th and 217th Ave.
Phase 2 of this project involves building a new shop facility that will house the Public Works engineering staff, the Community Development staff and the permit center. This will replace the Public Works Center near Lake Tapps and free up space on the third floor of the Justice and Municipal Center, which currently houses Community Development.
Grigsby said this project should be complete in about three years, and the city hopes the project will be at least partly funded through a revenue bond.
With Grigsby retiring, the city saw an opportunity to restructure the Public Works Department and the Community Development department.
“The city will consolidate the Public Works Director and the Community Development Director positions into a new position – the Public Services Director,” Grigsby said.
John Vodopich, the city’s current Community Development Director, will be filling this position.
Grigsby also said the Assistant Public Works Director position double check is being renamed to the Superintendent of Public Works, and the three supervisors for water, sewer and streets are being renamed from supervisor to assistant superintendent.
Grigsby said the re-organization should not be a difficult transition for Vodopich, the city or its residents.
“One person can manage a variety of these functions as long as they’ve got good people working for them,” he said. “I know that the city will have that. They have good people working for John.”
Vodopich held a similar position working in Gig Harbor for just over five years before he came to Bonney Lake and said he is looking forward to this opportunity.