Baldwin Borough’s new manager no stranger to community
Having lived in the borough for 22 years and worked as director of municipal services in the community for two, Bob Firek knows the ins and outs of Baldwin.
“There’s a lot of good that I think the borough has to offer,” he said.
On April 1, Firek, 51, took over as Baldwin Borough’s new manager. He served as interim in the position starting in January, after eight-year manager John Barrett left for a job in South Fayette.
In his early days, Firek never dreamed of being a borough manager.
He graduated from Point Park University with a civil engineering degree and, through an internship with PennDOT, found he loved the construction end of the job.
After bouncing between a few firms, he landed at Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering, where he worked for 19 years, climbing the ladder from working in inspection to staff engineer to manager of the municipal engineering department.
There, he worked with municipalities including Baldwin on everything from roadway programs to storm sewer projects to sidewalk replacements.
He often dealt with the public. If someone needed something, the municipalities forwarded the calls on to him.
He went out to meet with people about everything from damaged driveways to construction dust.
Two years ago, Baldwin Borough created the director of municipal services role and hired Firek. He oversaw construction budget activities, daily public works schedules, operation and maintenance of sanitary sewers and even applied for grants for some capital projects.
When Barrett left Baldwin, Firek said, the former manager recommended he go for the job.
“Bob was such a tremendous asset to me while I was manager of the borough that I was confident he was well suited to take over the reins,” Barrett said. “He is committed to the borough and will do a great job advancing the many projects Baldwin has going on. I have total confidence in him.”
Firek says Baldwin already is steering in the right direction. His plan is to help keep it going that way.
He plans to continue a focus on improving parks and infrastructures.
He also would like to bring back community day and find ways for more people to utilize the newly renovated auditorium at the municipal building. He envisions events at the pool to bring more people out to see recent renovations completed there.
He’d also like to see more road improvement projects.
“From the engineering side, I can see what we’ve had in other municipalities and what we need to do to get close to that,” he said.
But being “financially responsible” through all of this is key, he said. He will look for ways to apply for grants and outside funding to pay for projects.
Firek and his wife Rhonda have two daughters, RaeAnn and Renee, both who have gone through the Baldwin-Whitehall school system. His youngest is a junior at Baldwin High School.
Firek isn’t afraid to stop on his way home to check on something.
Even riding his bike along the Great Allegheny Passage trail one day, he noticed the “Welcome to Baldwin” sign had been broken. So, he stopped and called borough crews to make sure they got it fixed first thing Monday.
“I think I have more of a vested interest in keeping it in better condition because I live here,” he said.
As an engineer, Firek brings a “unique set of skills” to the borough manager role, said council Vice President Marianne Conley. His living in the borough is an added plus.
“It’s not just his job, it’s his community,” she said.
Kristina Serafini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kristina at 412-324-1405, [email protected] or via Twitter .