File photo: Peter Blasl

Riverhead Water District Superintendent Mark Conklin has retired after 38 years as a water district employee.

Conklin rose through the ranks to become deputy superintendent and was named to the top spot Jan. 1, 2015 after longtime superintendent Gary Pendzick retired.

Turning 65 in September, Conklin said it’s time for him to step back.

“I’ve loved this job. I love the water district and the town,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “But it’s time to retire.”

Officials agree that Conklin has an extraordinary work ethic and dedication to the water district.

“I’ve never met anybody that has the work ethic or constitution of Mark Conklin when it comes to running a department,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said Tuesday before voting on a resolution accepting Conklin’s retirement. “I wish him nothing but the best and I thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the town,” Hubbard said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said Conklin is “a very valuable employee.” “He’ll be sorely missed. Our water district has really improved with him at the helm,” Giglio said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said Conklin “sets the bar for being a great department head.”

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said Conklin was ready to retire when she took office, but agreed to stay on to get the district on track with a capital projects plan.

“He has really been an asset to our town and our community in providing us with clean, safe water,” Jens-Smith said. “I wish him good luck in retirement.”

The board’s senior member, Councilman James Wooten, voted against accepting Conklin’s resignation — but it was a vote made in jest and with the knowledge that there would be four other votes to accept it.

Wooten said he couldn’t stand the thought of letting Conklin go.

Conklin’s retirement was effective July 2, the same day as the board meeting. But he will work as a consultant to the water district through Sept. 30, pursuant to a professional services agreement authorized Tuesday under a separate resolution. The agreement has not yet been made available to the public, although the resolution authorizing the supervisor to execute it on behalf of the water district refers to the document as attached to the resolution. Its terms were not disclosed by the board. The resolution says Conklin will provide “management and supervisory services and activities” at an undisclosed hourly rate.

The board in November advertised for the superintendent position but has not yet filled it.

The water district last year embarked on a $15.3 million comprehensive capital plan to maintain and upgrade its facilities.

The district was established by the town board in April 1914. Today, it maintains over 230 miles of water main, 17 supply wells, 1,500 fire hydrants, five water storage tanks and pumps over 2.5 billion gallons of water every year, according to information published by the district.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.