It was a rare resident of Atherton who had never met Steve Tyler during his 17 years of working for the town, especially if they'd ever had an emergency requiring town assistance -- a fallen tree, a flooded intersection, a missing street sign.
Mr. Tyler, officially the public works superintendent, but unofficially, as the proclamation Mayor Cary Wiest read at the Dec. 20 City Council meeting said: "jack-of-all-trades including an arborist, a park whisperer, a street sign guru, a storm drain master, a street maintenance connoisseur, and a town historian."
The proclamation honored Mr. Tyler, who retired at the end of the year.
City Manager George Rodericks said Mr. Tyler was "an asset to the town and the organization; he was dedicated -- got the job done and found solutions." Mr. Rodericks said he appreciated that Mr. Tyler did not just bring him problems. Instead, "he would come with problems, and potential solutions."
"Steve always did what was necessary to make something successful," he said.
Mr. Rodericks said Mr. Tyler also "made the folks that worked around him, and for him, feel like family. That made a difference every day."
"He will be missed not just for his institutional memory, but because of who he was and what he meant to those around him," Mr. Rodericks said.
Before Mr. Tyler came to work in Atherton, he spent 19 years working for Caltrans. For the town, he was responsible for overseeing all public works maintenance functions and activities, including streets, traffic control, underground lines, facilities, park and infrastructure maintenance, preventive maintenance, safety programs, and capital improvement programs and projects.
The proclamation in Mr. Tyler's honor describes him as "reliable, dedicated, supportive, generous and always striv(ing) to get better and do better."
"There is no water level too high and no water level too low for Steve and his waist-high rubber boots handling flooding issues; and if there is a problem in the park, Steve is on it, whether it's sprinklers, doors locked, a rose garden not ready or a statue about to fall," the proclamation says.
Mr. Tyler, the proclamation says, could be counted on to provide "a calm, dependable and rational approach to solutions."
He is, the proclamation says, "the type of person who created a lot of positive goodwill with residents by being thoughtful and considerate in dealing with their concerns; being very responsive and taking the time, with patience, to explain why the town could or could not perform a task -- so even though some may not like the answer, they always appreciated Steve's attention and explanation."
With Mr. Tyler's departure, the town is making some changes in its staffing. It's ending the agreement with Interwest Consulting Group to supply a town engineer, and will instead hire a combination public works director/city engineer.
The city arborist's job will be reclassified to park manager/city arborist, and an associate engineer will become a senior engineer/maintenance manager.
Or, in other words, it will take three people to replace Mr. Tyler.