A third-generation Ridgefielder who remembers ice skating on frozen swamps and ponds where Copps Hill Plaza shopping center and the town Recreation Center stand today, Dave Buccitti was honored as the town of Ridgefield’s Employee of the Year for 2017.
“Great job,” Buccitti said of being foreman for the Department of Public Services. “Good town. I know pretty much every square inch of it.”
His mother, Ann Buccitti, was the town’s Probate Court administrator for years and years, and his late father owned Armando’s Barber Shop in Ridgefield’s village.
“Grew up in Ridgefield,” he said. “My grandfathers, they all settled here. My mother grew up on Island Hill Avenue. And we moved down to Route 35 — which was way out of town, then — by the Baptist Church down there.
“We used to go skating where the Rec Center is, we used to skate over there. We used to skate where Stop & Shop is — that was a swamp.”
He went to Ridgefield schools — Farmingville, East Ridge, and then graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1980.
He remembers annual events that were a big deal for a kid in those days — and are now gone.
“Danbury Fair was always a good time,” he said. “The car shows at Veterans Park School — all the mud and all the mess they used to make.”
He enjoyed growing up in Ridgefield.
“All good, clean fun, playing outside, riding your bikes,” he said. “Going outside, playing.”
He worked for a couple of local employers — Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi’s late husband, Richard Serfilippi’s maintenance company, and First Selectman Rudy Marconi’s father’s company, Nano Marconi Construction — before landing with the town highway crew in 1997.
“Kind of kicked around a little bit,” he said, “and ended up here.”
At Ridgefield’s Public Service Department he’s the No. 2 guy behind Director Peter Hill, overseeing a crew of 16 workers who plow and dig and drive huge machines, while head mechanic Burt Motta leads a team of four mechanics who keep the equipment working.
Public Services does a lot.
“Obviously we sand and plow during the wintertime. We do the potholes. And then in the springtime we do the paving of the roads, fixing the curbing. We sweep. We do the brush, the guard posts, the mowing, street signs. We pick up some downed trees,” he said.
“Basically, anything, Anything that happens to the roads — spillage or dumping, whatever keeps the roads open. We do the drainage, pretty much anything associated with the roads.
“Also, down here at the yard, we process all the brush people bring in. We accept brush at the transfer station, and when it piles up, we put it through the wood chipper. It’s a bit of a process,” he said.
“We help the other departments if they need something. Between engineering, sometimes Parks and Rec — we work together pretty good with Parks and Rec. Sometimes the schools need stuff, too. We take care of the potholes and all the parking lots.”
Buccitti helps oversee it all.
“We’ve got to assign the jobs to the crew members, the daily work sheet, get the guys going on the jobs,” he said.
“First you’ve got to go scope out all the jobs, whatever the jobs may be. Then you’ve got to take care of the phone calls — people call with issues and stuff,” he said.
“You’ve got to order all the inventory, drainage materials, basic inventory, keep track of all that kind of stuff. We try to keep an eye on the Recycling Center a little bit.
“The biggest thing is taking complaints — the phone calls come in — go check them out.
“The roads, paving for the season, you’ve got to take all the measurements, figure what curbs are going to get replaced, what drainage is going to get replaced. Fix any issues.”
Paving’s a little like painting, he said.
“When you’re going to paint the house, you’ve got to take care of everything, fill in the holes, spackle over everything,” he said.
“I deal with the private contractors who do the milling of the roads and paving of the roads, set up the schedules for those guys.”
And every job has its preliminary work, its bureaucratic aspect, its follow-up.
“Order the materials, make sure the job’s up, do all the preliminary work, assign the guys, the crews — and, hopefully, get it all done,” Buccitti said.
During snowstorms he’s got to deal with the private contractors who share plowing duties with the town crew, and talk with the schools and the school bus company.
“Try to coordinate with the bus company, make sure they know what’s going on with the roads,” Buccitti said.
“And you’re on call 24 hours a day,” he said. “If a tree falls in the middle of night — whatever may be, it could be a tree, a rock, it could be sinkhole in a road. Who knows? Ice spots in the wintertime.”
It’s a bit of hike to get in to work — he and his wife, Ellen, live on the other side of Danbury — but he’s not complaining.
Most of the off-hours stuff is predictably seasonal.
“Summertime you usually don’t get too much, mostly in wintertime,” Buccitti said. “If you get a windy day, a windy night, the trees could fall down anytime. We also pick up dead deer on the side of the road.”
The folks Buccitti reports to say he’s more than deserving of “employee of the year” honors.
“Good man,” said Public Services Director Peter Hill.
“He’s an excellent guy. He goes out of his way to do things. Very conscientious, very dedicated to the job,” Hill said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a big plus to this department.
“He’s my No. 2 guy, and he doesn’t mind going out and getting dirty,” Hill added. “He’ll shovel, he’ll go out and plow.
“The award they gave him, it’s well-deserved.”
Personnel Director Laurie Fernandez agreed.
“I think Dave is a great employee, works very hard, and takes on every challenge set forth to him,” she said. “He handles a lot — the department had two foremen and now one (due to job freezes) and he is taking on all those additional responsibilities.”
The first selectman also had high praise.
“Excellent choice, he‘s a dedicated individual,” Marconi said. “And I want everybody to know that the award for ‘employee of the year’ is for the person who goes above and beyond their normal duties, and David is a fine example of that.”
What’s the craziest thing Buccitti has done going “above and beyond” for his job?
“Retrieving cell phones from catch basins — cell phones and keys,” he said, “You’ve got to jump into the catch basin and retrieve them. It’s always right when it’s raining, too.”