Mercer Island Director of Development Services (DSG) Tim Stewart announced his retirement from on June 6 following several months of medical leave to recover from a stroke.
Stewart, 62, joined Mercer Island from the City of Bellingham in June 2010 after he had worked there as a planning director for four years. Stewart's career as a planning director spanned five different cities across the U.S.
"Tim brought a stable sense of leadership and technical expertise (when he joined the city)," said City Manager Rich Conrad. "We're all sorry to see him go, but we all knew when he announced his retirement that he had made the right decision."
The DSG is responsible for reviewing and certifying all permits for land use and private development, and manages all municipal capital improvement projects. While working for Mercer Isand as DSG Director, Stewart earned an annual salary of $135,000.
Stewart recently completed draft revisions to the Mercer Island's and was preparing to meet with the newly-formed city Sustainability Policy Task Force when he fell ill. He wrote in an email to city officials and colleagues that a stroke he suffered in late April had affected his vision and balance, but his doctors said he could hope for a near- to full-recovery in 6-12 months.
"This was initially a difficult decision," he wrote. "Mercer Island is a great community and the City of Mercer Island is a great organization. I will miss my Mercer Island friends and colleagues and those in Bellingham, Shoreline and the larger community of planners in King County and the State of Washington."
Mayor Bruce Bassett, who announced the task force and worked closely with Stewart and relied on his expertise from a similar program launched in Bellingham, said Stewart's absence would be strongly felt.
"Bellingham is a city that has made great strides in sustainability focus," said Bassett. "Having him here was a real asset as we tried to advance our own sustainability policy."
Stewart said he planned on spending more time with his wife, Dr. Rose Curran, who was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach urban and regional planning at Mekelle University in Ethiopia this upcoming academic year. The couple previously lectured on city planning in Ethiopia at Addis Ababa University in 2005-2006.
"The stroke provided me with the opportunity to reflect upon how precious our time is and how important it is to use our time wisely," Stewart wrote. "It is now time for me to turn the page and to start a new chapter in my life."
DSG Administative Services Manager Kirsten Taylor handled management of the city department until Stewart made his resignation official. City Manager Conrad said Deputy City Manager Noel Treat was appointed earlier this month to serve as interim DSG Manager.
Conrad also said a new director could be hired by a target date of November 1.