Portland Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott Resigns

Bureau of Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott

Longtime Portland bureau director Dean Marriott has agreed to resign in the wake of a Bureau of Environmental Services building project that went out of control.

Marriott, who has spent 20 years atop the city's sewer and stormwater bureau, will receive one year's salary—$199,160—plus $49,000 in legal expenses, according to the terms of a deal announced in the City Council agenda and confirmed by City Hall sources.

In return, he will agree to drop his threat of a lawsuit. His last day will be Jan. 7, sources tell WW.

City Commissioner Nick Fish placed Marriott on paid leave in October as the result of a city audit into the Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant services building, which tripled in costs to $11.5 million.

Fish asked for the audit after WW and KOIN-TV reported how the city turned what was supposed to be a utilitarian office building, originally estimated at $3.2 million, into a "poster-child facility" for wastewater engineers in North Portland.

The audit showed bureau managers approved a design so ornate and inadequate that it required 85 change orders during construction, mostly to fix design problems like the ecoroof covered in wetland grasses.

Marriott threatened to sue the city last month, saying Fish and then-City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade conspired to end his career. He was scheduled for a hearing next week to determine if Fish had the authority to send him home.

That career was marked by one crowning achievement: Marriott oversaw the Big Pipe project, a $1.4 billion series of huge sewer pipes that mostly prevent raw sewage from spilling into the Willamette River.

Marriott was also the target of criticism over the cost of projects, with then-City Commissioner Charlie Hales once describing his department as "the Bureau of Excessive Spending."

In 2005, then-Mayor Tom Potter asked Marriott to resign, while forcing out three other bureau chiefs. Marriott refused to resign, and Potter couldn't make him leave because he had civil-service protection that meant he could be fired only for cause. 

UPDATE, 1:21 pm: City Commissioner Nick Fish's office confirms Marriott's resignation.

"Commissioner Fish will be moving rapidly to begin a national search to replace the director of the Bureau of Environmental Services," says Fish staffer Jim Blackwood.

Reached by WW at his home, Marriott declined comment.

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