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You are here: Home The Goods Superintendent of Public Works Benedict Salanitro to Retire After Almost 20 Years in Scarsdale
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Superintendent of Public Works Benedict Salanitro to Retire After Almost 20 Years in Scarsdale

SalanitroIf you think that clearing your own driveway after a snowstorm is a big job, imagine trying to plow the roads and sidewalks for the entire Village of Scarsdale--- and not just once --- but over and over again for almost 20 years. That’s been on the shoulders of one man for almost 20 years.

And the snow is only one part of his job. He is responsible for managing a staff of 77 employees, maintaining the roads, the watercourses and the trees while supervising capitol projects and managing the central maintenance garage and Village facilities. He is on call 24/7 and in a Village that demands excellence, that’s no small job.

Superintendent of Public Works Benedict Salanitro, or Benny as he is known around town, will retire in January. He has been with the Village since 1999, first as the Village Engineer and later heading up the Department of Public Works. He came to Scarsdale from Tarrytown where he served as the Superintendent of Public Works – and plans to do some consulting in municipal engineering after he officially steps down.

What stands out about his 19 years here? He remembers the windstorms, blackouts, snowstorms and floods but is also proud of some of the improvements he implemented around Scarsdale. Thank Salanitro for the new pocket park in front of the train station in Scarsdale, and a new salt shed that can store 2,000 tons of salt and saved the village $250,000. More recently he has helped to shepherd through Westchester’s first food scrap recycling program – and this week he was proud to be at the opening of the Take It or Leave It recycling shed at the sanitation lot that was refashioned from an old bus stop.

What was one of the most memorable incidents during Salanitro’s tenure? In August 2003 there was a massive blackout that knocked out the power grid for the entire east coast … no power, no lights, no nothing. A train load of commuters traveling to the city from northern Westchester was stranded at the Scarsdale train station – with no way to get home. The situation was more fraught because all the shops in Scarsdale were closed and the group had nothing to eat. They couldn’t take taxis because the cabs had no gas. Imagine the dilemma depicted in the Broadway show “Come From Away,” (when planeloads of passengers were stranded in Newfoundland) on a more local level.

What to do? As Salanitro tells it, before the situation “got out of control,” he consulted with the police and came up with a plan. One of the maintenance workers from the Department of Public Works had a license to drive a school bus. They decided to commandeer one of the buses in the school fleet and transferred the train passengers to the school bus. As the commuters sang songs on the bus, the driver headed south and took the passengers home, one by one. After the storm, Salanitro was given a certificate of commendation from Westchester County.depotnewSalanitro designed and managed the construction of a new pocket park at Depot Place.

Salanitro is proud of some of the capitol projects he supervised during his time here. The South Fox Meadow water course runs from White Plains to George Field, down the Post Road to Harcourt Woods and terminates in the Bronx River and includes a seven acre timed release water detention pond. A silt removal project was done at Crane Berkely Pond in conjunction with the residents who live in that neighborhood. Other flood mitigation projects are in the works near Cayuga Pond and in Edgewood.

Salanitro says he will miss the opportunity to work on these types of project with his staff and will miss the camaraderie with Village staff. He is gratified that he was able to help so many solve their problems and hopes he gained the respect of the many people he worked with and served during his decades in Scarsdale. He said, “In a place like Scarsdale you have to be a little bit more than the regular superintendent” and is happy he had the chance to contribute.

Commenting on Salanitro’s retirement, Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert said, “I've known Benny for more than a dozen years. Due to his low-key style, it took a while to appreciate how valuable he has been to Scarsdale. I believe that only the people who had direct interaction with Benny could learn of his capability since he didn't publicize his role. However those who benefited from his work admired him. If there was a possible way to improve the quality of life in Scarsdale, within his range of responsibilities, Benny always figured it out. He will be missed.”

Former Scarsdale Mayor Jon Mark said, “Benny’s enthusiasm for the care our Village was unmatched. Supervising a truly nuts and bolts operation did not keep him from learning new techniques to do department work better and to expand into areas that help make our village more sustainable. His adoption — albeit with some persistent prodding by residents — of the LED street light program and the food scraps recycling program are two examples. Working with Benny was a delight and the Village will miss his energy and expertise.”

So next time you see a Scarsdale truck and workers vacuuming your leaves, picking up your recycling or watering a newly planted tree, realize that the effort to maintain our Village in a park takes a Village indeed…. and someone who cares to lead it.

SalanitroLetterLetter of Commendation from Westchester County after the Black Out in 2003

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