Last Friday, Dennis Piendak shut off the lights and turned the key on an amazing 28-year run as Dracut’s town manager.
No doubt, he departed Town Hall the way he came in — unassuming but self-assured.
Top town administrators, with few exceptions, just don’t spend the majority of their professional career in one place anymore.
The hair-pulling that goes with balancing a budget and delivering expected services — with a minimal impact on taxes — is part art and science. It’s something that Piendak has delivered with a consummate professionalism for almost three decades.
On the way, he’s managed to navigate the treacherous political currents for which Dracut is known. He’s done so by keeping his politics out of the decision-making process. That’s a trait he shares with two other recently retired successful municipal executives — Michael Caira (Wilmington) and Robert Healy (Cambridge).
Piendak’s cautious, conservative style is a reflection of the town where he works and lives. That’s kept the tax burden relatively low, but in a community with a small commercial-industrial base, not every resident has been pleased with the results. That was evident in the recent divide over school funding.
However it also should be noted that on his watch, the town has seen the construction of a new junior high school, two major high-school building projects, two new fire stations, a new police station, several sewer projects and openings of numerous parks and memorials.
All of this was accomplished without a single Proposition 2 1/2 override.
Now all those headaches are someone else’s problem. An accomplished golfer, Piendak will have more time to fine-tune his game on Long Meadow Golf Club, and spend more time with wife Sharon and his grandchildren.
And he knows in his own way, he leaves Dracut’s ledger in a better place than he found it.