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West Valley City Journal

Wayne Pyle to retire as West Valley City manager

Nov 08, 2023 09:53AM ● By Darrell Kirby

West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle speaks prior to the ribbon-cutting for fire station 76 in 2018. Pyle is retiring after 26 years with the city, 21 as city manager. (File photo City Journals)

He has been an institution in West Valley City government for more than half of the city’s life as an incorporated municipality, outlasting previous mayors and city councilmembers.  

After 21 years as city manager preceded by five years as assistant city manager of Utah’s second-largest city, Wayne Pyle is retiring at the end of this year. 

“It’s a little weird after 26 years,” he said. “It’s been a great experience, a wild and crazy time here.” 

Pyle said he notified the city council in February of his intention to leave at year’s end. He was up for a contract renewal in May. 

Pyle cited West Valley City’s tremendous growth as highlights of his career. The city had just under 100,000 residents in 1997. It is now 140,000. Additions to the city during that time include the Maverik Center (known early on as the E Center), Centennial Park and the Family Fitness Center, the then-home of Hale Center Theater, the expansion and remake of Valley Fair Mall, the construction of Fairbourne Station and the UTA bus and TRAX station near city hall, an industrial and warehouse corridor on West Valley City’s north side, and multi- and single-family housing developments throughout the city. 

A new police department headquarters opened in October 2019 and additional fire stations were built to serve the growing city. 

Structural and aesthetic improvements were also made to busy 3500 South through the city’s center. 

“It’s been pretty amazing,” Pyle said. 

One of the more trying times during Pyle’s tenure was 2012 and 2013 following a controversial shooting death of an unarmed woman at an apartment complex by police detectives. One of those detectives, Shaun Cowley, was fired for what the department said were violations of department policies. He claimed his termination was in retaliation for blowing the whistle on what he said were policy violations in the police department’s neighborhood narcotics unit. The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the firing. Police chief Thayle “Buzz” Nielsen retired months after the shooting citing health reasons. 

Those events prompted reforms that eventually led several years later to the police department earning national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, one of only two police agencies in Utah (Salt Lake City is the other) and 5% nationwide to meet the standards for such recognition. “It was a very tough time there in 2012 and the succeeding years as we turned that around, but I’m very happy and proud to be part of that,” he added.  

Pyle joined West Valley City in 1997 as assistant city manager under then-City Manager John Patterson. Prior to that, he worked in Midvale where he served as acting city manager for a time. Pyle took over management of West Valley City’s day-to-day operations when Patterson left in 2002. His time with the West Valley spans a majority of its history since it became a city in 1980. “I actually just did that calculation. Sixty percent of West Valley’s history, I’ve been here,” Pyle said. He originally intended to spend about three years in West Valley City, get some additional experience, and move on to manage a city of his own. 

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Pyle looked elsewhere only once during his career with West Valley. He was a finalist for the city manager opening in Springfield, Missouri in 2018. 

Pyle, who turned 59 in October, won’t entirely rule out seeking another city manager position in the future, but said it’s highly unlikely. Instead, he said he might do some consulting work for cities.  

The city council has hired an executive search firm to help find candidates to succeed Pyle. It is hoped a final selection can be made in early 2024. 

Pyle’s retirement from West Valley City comes after the recent departures of two other longtime managers for the city. Assistant City Manager Nicole Cottle left to become director of government affairs at fiber optic internet network UTOPIA and Nancy Day retired as Parks and Recreation director. Like Pyle, both served in various positions with West Valley City for over two decades. λ