Curles looks back on his time with city

Port Orchard City Engineer Larry Curles looks relaxed Friday morning leaning back in his office chair.

“I’m currently in the process of concluding all the things I was doing, making sure nothing falls through the cracks,” Curles said.

This week, he said, he will focus on his in-box, and next week he jokes of locking himself in his office to finish the budget before moving from the City to being the assistant general manager at Annapolis Water District.

Curles, 55, has been with the city for more than 23 years. A self-professed “Army brat” he served as a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers and said he enjoyed his first taste of the Pacific Northwest after being stationed near Fort Lewis.

Following his stint in the military, he worked for six months in Bellevue before being hired by Port Orchard in September 1981.

Kim Abel will be the fourth mayor he’s worked for, and over the years he said his title of city engineer has grown to encompass much more.

“Being an engineer means serving the public and solving problems,” Curles said. “Most city engineers represent the community, taking care of the roads, the water and sewer systems and helping the city build buildings. Port Orchard was a little different.”

Curles said in addition to working as city engineer, he also works as the city planner and building official, and maintains the parks and general facilities.

Curles also worked as an assistant to the mayor.

“It encompasses pretty much all of Public Works,” Curles laughed. “I think I’m the only engineer I’ve ever met in charge of street parking enforcement.”

Curles is behind many of the city’s major projects over the years, projects that have changed the visible face of Port Orchard forever.

“I’m proud of all of it,” Curles said. “There was very little that I did separately. Even the small projects. It’s never just been one person. It’s about cooperation, teamwork.”

Abel said the city will miss Curles’ knowledge and extensive background in city issues.

“I often tell people that Larry, with his long time at the city, has been filling a lot of roles,” Abel said. “We’re going to lose that. Our concern is that we’re going to have to hire more people. When he said he was looking (elsewhere), I continued to express hope that he would maybe reconsider.”

However, Curles did not reconsider.

“I had already made the decision it was time for me to try something different,” Curles said. “I let many different agencies know I was moving on. I kept (Abel) fully informed.”

Though Curles’ last day is still weeks away, he said he is excited about his new opportunities at Annapolis.

“There was a shift in (the city council’s) philosophy, goals and objectives,” Curles said. “The more I saw, the more I thought, ‘I can’t be a part of this anymore.’ I think (Annapolis Water District) is a well-run utility. I’m anxious to be a part of it.”

Dennis Coburn is the general manager of Annapolis Water District. He said the excitement is mutual.

“I feel very good about having him on board,” Coburn said. “I think he’s very well qualified, and from what I know, he’s very well thought of in the community.”

According to Coburn, after he retires in March of next year, it’s anticipated Curles will become Annapolis’ general manager.

For now, Curles said the first six months of his job at Annapolis will be working on reports and crafting the utility’s comprehensive plan.

“I’ll be extremely busy,” he said. “I’ll have intimate knowledge of what the city needs. You know it better when you write it.”

Curles lives with his family on Fox Island, a “well-kept secret,” and said he’s excited for the opportunity to work in his preferred field — hydraulics.

“I’m not starting something new,” Curles said. “I’m just taking the opportunity to specialize in my field. You’re not going to retire before you’re 60 and I’ll work as long as I’m happy.”

Curles said the thought of leaving the city after 23 years as bittersweet.

“I enjoyed my time with Port Orchard,” Curles said. “I would’ve enjoyed a few more years, but priorities have shifted and I have a new opportunity. I’m excited.”

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