Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ranjit Singanayagam, commissioner of Cambridge’s Inspectional Services Department, at a City Council meeting in 2016. (Photo: Ceilidh Yurenka)

The longtime commissioner of Cambridge’s Inspectional Services Department, Ranjit Singanayagam, submitted his request to retire Tuesday.

It was accepted by the city’s retirement board with gratitude for his 39 years and five months of service.

“He is a great, sort of generally unsung hero in the city, ” retirement board member Michael Gardner said. “He was really a dedicated and thoughtful member of that department, which had struggles over the years [that] he really helped settle down.”

Reached by phone Tuesday, Singanayagam said he planned to retire at the end of this month.

Who would lead the department afterward was unknown to him, he said, deputy city manager and chief operating officer Owen O’Riordan said Tuesday an announcement would be considered over the coming weeks, with an advertisement for a permanent replacement made as soon as possible. “Ranjit has been a wonderful public servant, serving as the Inspectional Services Commissioner for over two decades and has sent almost 40 years in total working for the City – always in the Inspectional Services Department,” O’Riordan said. “Obviously, the changes he has seen in the city over that time have been extraordinary and serving as he has at ISD, he has been at the [center] of much of those changes.”

“When people speak about Ranjit, they speak about his deep knowledge of the city’s zoning and about his gentle demeanor. Obviously replacing someone with his deep institutional experience is a challenge,” O’Riordan said.

O’Riordan said Singanayagam had spoken about retirement “on a few occasions during the fall and obviously reached the decision he did in December.” He told city managers officially just before the holidays of his intention to retire at the end of January.

Also too early for Singanayagam to announce: What he would do with his retirement. “Hopefully something good will happen for me,” he said.

Singanayagam leads a department of 29 staffers with a budget of $4.5 million that ensures building construction and quality and responds to complaints when things fall short. It’s also led efforts against rat infestations and enforcement of Covid restrictions.

His preparation for the role came from a focus on civil and structural engineering and management at university in England, according to Singanayagam’s LinkedIn.

As a 28-year employee of the city, Gardner was “embarrassed to say that I never really mastered any confidence in saying his last name. But that was partly because everyone who ever talked about him at City Hall or anywhere else always just spoke about Ranjit, and we knew who they meant.”

Singanayagam was invited to expand on that work and other challenges and accomplishments over the past nearly 40 years of work. This post will be updated with a response.

More departures

Other long-term employees of the city approved for retirement at the meeting were fire Lt. Stephen Boyle, who has served for 35 years and six months, and firefighter Jeffrey Turner, with 37 years and three months; police Lt. Thomas Ahern, who has served for 29 years and eight months, and patrol officer Hercot Miller, who has serve for 35 years and eight months; and Robert Steck, supervising landscape architect in the Community Development Department with 37 years and five months, and Maureen Van Stry, a paraprofessional with the schools department with 31 years and three months.

Retirement can be requested up to four months before the intended final day of work, said Ellen Philbin, executive director of the Cambridge Retirement Board.

There have been a number of recent prominent retirements by public servants in Cambridge, starting with the previous city manager, Louis A. DePasquale, who had been in city government for 47 years until June; acting fire chief Gerard Mahoney left in August after some 39 and a half years; and city auditor James Monagle, who gave notice a year ago after being in the position since 2002.