Abington Commissioner Benzak to Step Down
Why is the Abington commissioner leaving the board? He bought a farm.
Toward the end of last night’s lengthy board of commissioners meeting, Abington Commissioner Les Benzak made an announcement: he said he was resigning, effective May 25.
The reason? An out-of-Abington horse farm.
Benzak said that he and his wife of 23 years are fulfilling a lifelong dream by purchasing a farm in Upper Frederick Township.
“We weren’t looking for a property,” Benzak said. “The events kind of lined up perfectly, the timing was perfect and we ended up purchasing a 13-acre horse farm.”
Following the meeting, Benzak said his wife used to ride horses and said, “Maybe one day I will.” (While he may not have any horse-riding skills, he said he has a great picture of himself on a tractor ... which should give him some farm credibility.)
“It’s a really unique property,” he said. “It’s the only one we looked at. The driveway is 0.3 miles long and tree lined and it has a barn.”
Benzak, who was elected in November 2005, looked back on his tenure, and took the time to say some thank-yous.
“Over the past 6-and-a-half years, with much help from my fellow commissioners, township staff and residents, we were able to make some permanent and some real positive changes in North Hills and the township,” Benzak said.
He said during his time as commissioner, he has seen the township meetings become televised, one 100-year storm and seven 50-year storms. He thanked township engineer Michael Powers for his help in mitigating the flood problems in North Hills and Ardsley.
And now for some Les trivia:
What’s the first thing Benzak did as commissioner?
“After I was elected in 2005, and started in 2006, the first thing I did, I went to the code enforcement office, got a sheriff’s badge off the internet, and got cards that said, 'Les Benzak: Abington Township Self Appointed Volunteer Junior Code Enforcement Officer.' Larry [Matteo] really didn’t know what to do with me at the time.”
What’s he proud of?
Benzak said he is “most proud” of what the Abington Parks and Recreation Department has done for Dennis Dougherty Park in North Hills, particularly the new playground equipment. Benzak said he is also happy with the partnership between the township and Hunter Soccer Club.
“I’ve always been a big advocate of giving clubs 'ownership' of the parks,” he said. “If you look at the police reports for the parks, graffiti and vandalism is down over 1,000 percent … I’ve always said, if you keep the kids in the parks and in the fields, you keep them off the streets.”
And his biggest voting mistake?
“That’s a really easy question,” he said. “In 2007, I voted against the automated trash system. As you know, it exceeded all expectations. I don’t know if anyone else could have changed public works like Ed [Micciolo] did. There’s pie on my face; I wish I could get that vote back.”
The commissioners thanked Benzak for his service and wished him luck on his new farm.
Commissioner Lori Schreiber, who was also elected in 2005, called Benzak a “good buddy,” and said she would miss him very much; commissioner Peggy Myers held up a black and white sign to Benzak that read, “Your time is up.” (She usually raises the sign during public comment.) And commissioner John Spiegelman called Benzak “Farmer Les.”
Benzak said that during the meeting, he received three messages from Ward 6 residents:
- Someone blew a stop sign.
- Someone’s grass is too high.
- The ice cream truck was too loud.
Benzak said jokingly that he’s going to tell the residents to call Commissioner James Ring.
Check back later for an update on Benzak's successor.