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Riding Off Into The Sunset

Village trustees, staff bid

Robert Schoelle, Jr. farewell

All good things must come to an end and for Robert Schoelle, Jr., that would be the 34 years he spent as the Village of Garden City’s chief administrative officer. Schoelle attended his final board of trustees meeting in this capacity on Thursday, March 20. The long-time village resident has held the post since 1980 and served under 18 mayors.

“I would like to thank the boards of trustees for giving me the opportunity to be of service to this wonderful community. It has been an honor and something that I will never forget,” he said.

Mayor John Watras said Schoelle has been “a big brother and great friend” over the years. “I can’t say enough about him,” he said. “We just think the world of him and we’re going to miss him an awful lot.”

“When the history of Garden City is written, the names that will be associated with Garden City are Stewart, Hubbell and Schoelle,” Trustee Dennis Donnelly added.

During his tenure, Schoelle oversaw and coordinated projects too numerous to list that have greatly improved the quality of life in the village. Some highlights include establishment of the Belmont Festival; beautification of Garden City’s three business districts; designation of Stewart and Franklin avenues as the Garden City Village Green; purchase of the St. Paul’s campus and improvement of the surrounding playing fields; and, most recently, renovation of the Garden City Pool.

Trustees and village staff alike praised the tireless leadership of the exiting chief administrative officer.

Village Clerk Brian Ridgway applauded his unwavering dedication to Garden City, stating, “It’s second to none … It was common for Bob Schoelle to be on the fire scene, at a water main break, at a snowstorm, whatever type of situation this village had, this man was there.”

This was evident when Superstorm Sandy hit. Schoelle and his staff immediately moved into action. He worked closely with the departments of public works, police and fire in an effort to quickly clear streets of debris as the storm downed more than 650 village trees. His coordination of the monumental operation brought accolades not only from residents and business owners but from other municipalities as well.

“He has always done what’s in the best interest of the village,” Trustee Robert Bolebruch said.

Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh, who has served five years on the board of trustees, said Schoelle was one of the best teachers he’s ever had. “In his quiet way, in his conversational way, in his narrative manner, he really imparts an awful lot of information and an awful lot of his experience, which he shares so graciously with all of us, certainly with me,” he said. “I found it to be a wonderful learning experience to work alongside Bob.”

Schoelle, who retires effective March 31, will serve as a short-term consultant to aid his successor, Ralph V. Suozzi, during the transition.

The village intends to host an event in Schoelle’s honor, Mayor Watras announced. He will receive the Garden City Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Award at this year’s Pineapple Ball, to be held May 9 at The Garden City Hotel.