New parking sheriff to focus on customer service

New parking services director Rita Azrelyant is ready to focus on customer service –Ken Borsuk

New parking services director Rita Azrelyant is ready to focus on customer service –Ken Borsuk

There’s a new parking sheriff in town and she’s eager to get to work on what remains a very important quality of life issue in Greenwich.

By a unanimous vote last month, the Greenwich Board of Selectmen approved the hiring of Rita Azrelyant to succeed Allen Corry, who left the position late last year to move out of state. First Selectman Peter Tesei said that Ms. Azrelyant was selected after an “extensive search” that included 18 applicants for the position. She is currently the assistant to the village manager in Scarsdale, N.Y., a job that includes overseeing parking administration for the village, and Mr. Tesei praised her “impressive record of achievement in municipal management and local government.”

In an interview with the Post upon her appointment, which does not require any additional approvals, Ms. Azrelyant said that her philosophy for the department will be about providing customer service, not just for residents but for merchants as well. Paying for parking is not something a lot of people relish, but by delivering good service through the department and making finding parking a positive experience, she believed that people would continue to make Greenwich a good place to live and shop.

“Access, ease of access and safety are what you always have to take into consideration,” Ms. Azrelyant said. “Comfort level is also very important. You don’t want people running around and trying to find out where the parking is. They don’t want to leave their car and then have to worry about if it’s going to be OK. People don’t want to drive around two blocks looking for parking. I drove down Greenwich Avenue and I see how it can be stressful. It’s frustrating and it makes people want to leave. We want people to stay and enjoy the town with ease.”

And it’s not just cars that Ms. Azrelyant is going to focus on. She also wants to look at “alternative parking” for bicycles and motorcycles. By making it easier for people to park those forms of transportation she said people will rely less on cars, potentially freeing up spaces and easing congestion.

Concentrating solely on parking and leading a department is a new challenge for Ms. Azrelyant but it’s one she told the Post she feels she’s ready for given her background and experience.

“Parking was one of my many responsibilities in Scarsdale but it plays such a big role that I truly enjoy it,” Ms. Azrelyant said. “So when this opportunity came up I knew it was a good one. It’s where I want to be career-wise and I want to help this town.”

Ms. Azrelyant thanked the Board of Selectmen for its support and said she couldn’t wait to get started.

“The town of Greenwich is beautiful and I’m looking forward to working here and interacting with the residents and the merchants and working on the quality of life here,” Ms. Azrelyant said. To help with that, Mr. Tesei offered the town’s full support in transitioning her to the new role including meeting with town department heads and other parts of the management team to get a look at the town and its government structure.

Ms. Azrelyant is scheduled to officially begin her job in Greenwich on Monday, July 14, allowing her time to bring a few projects to a close in Scarsdale. But after she was appointed on June 19, she had the chance to tour the department at the back of Town Hall, meet the staff and even see her new office for the first time.

In her role in Scarsdale, Mr. Tesei noted that she was responsible for the budgeting, staffing, purchasing and inventory control of parking administration and also has experience assisting the village manager in the day-to-day functions of the village.

“The interviewing panel found her experience in the field of parking services administration and municipal government would best meet the needs and responsibilities required for the director of parking services in Greenwich,” Mr. Tesei said, adding that he was pleased to be adding her to the town’s management team.

Greenwich and Scarsdale are communities with a number of similarities and Ms. Azrelyant said she found that very appealing. Her time in Scarsdale, she said, taught her about the need to meet high expectations with high levels of customer service. And while she acknowledges that running the department here in Greenwich is at a larger scale than she is experienced with, she said she believed she can easily transition from the village to her new town.

“I’m not trying to take this department and say that I’m here to make it better,” Ms. Azrelyant said. “I’m here to enhance what it’s good at. I really want to get in here and get to know the people that live here and those that work here. I want to work with the residents and the merchants and establish relationships. Customer service is very important and I take that very seriously. I want people to enjoy coming downtown and enjoy parking.”

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