While most people can’t wait to leave their hometown the minute they turn 18, Kirkland seems to retain a large number of its own. A case in point: Mike Metteer, currently the Business Services Manager for the city’s . From in Juanita on through and beyond, Metteer is a Kirklander through and through.
He’s the “glass half full” type of guy who prefers to roll up his sleeves and get things done, rather than wait around for someone else to do it. With blue eyes, closely cropped hair and a salt and pepper goatee, Metteer is the friendly face connecting business owners and local parks.
Hot dog vendors, paddle board rentals and Wednesday Market coordinators all go through Metteer for business permits as well as guidance.
“I’ll give them my honest opinion on their business idea,” says Metteer who has been around long enough to know what works in Kirkland. “Businesses that do well are the ones that stay open late -- 9 p.m. or later.”
A regular presence on the downtown Kirkland scene -- whether helping direct the Fourth of July parade or playing ukelele in the local band Marilyn and G-Strings -- Metteer sees himself as a missionary of sorts, working to bring tourist-attracting ideas to our city.
Among them is a desire to fully utilize Kirkland’s waterfront. He has helped to change the wording in outdated ordinances to allow lake-friendly activities, like paddle boarding and guest moorage at ’s dock.
“Most of the laws were written when waterfront property was used as an industrial area,” says Metteer.
In 2001, Metteer’s final project through the Leadership Institute was spearheading Kirkland’s Wednesday Market. Though the project was a group effort, Metteer claims to have been the one pushing for the market as a way to create a community magnet where people could come together, mingle and meet their neighbors.
“Now it seems like every town has their own market, but back then it was a newer idea,” he says.
As a resident of the Juanita neighborhood, Metteer spends quite a bit of time at both (when it is open, that is) and , both of which he can walk to. And while he praises the many great coffee shops in town, Metteer is partial to his neighborhood shop .
Metteer began his career with Kirkland’s parks department as a seasonal employee in 1984, moving on as a maintenance and grounds worker at before becoming a maintenance supervisor. His role as business services manager has moved him away from outdoor labor to more of a desk-and-meeting lifestyle.
However, Metteer is part of a lunch break ultimate Frisbee team that meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-1 p.m. at . The games draw a variety of people, particularly from the local tech companies in the area. It is an open team and all are welcome.
Summer is the busiest time of year for Metteer and the parks department. He and his wife Julie like to get away in the winter months, particularly since their two children Dale (23) and Emily (20) are now grown. There is a map on his office wall with push pins indicating all of the places they have been. A dense cluster of pins lie in the Caribbean islands.
However, there are also pins in Mexico and some other South American countries like Venezuela and Chile. Metteer explains that he has been on several missions trips where he has helped locals build things like community centers that provide kids with alternatives to gang activities.
In November, Metteer will be travelling to Nicaragua with Eastlake Church. In addition to service projects, the team will be delivering shoes and solar power technology to the community.
But you could say home is where his heart is.
“I love Kirkland -- love coming to work,” says Metteer.
Of the lifetime of changes he’s seen, having lived his whole life in Kirkland, he feels very positive about the city. He claims that downtown gets all the credit, but that there are really five little downtowns -- Houghton, Totem Lake, Juanita, Bridle Trails and the 85th corridor. Metteer’s position has allowed him to get to know many of the local business owners.
But it is the big events like the recent Fourth of July festivities where he gets to shine: the smiling guy dressed as Uncle Sam, complete with American flag shoes -- that’s Mike Metteer.