Councilmember Sydney Verinder attended his last Town Council meeting Monday night. When Mayor Jane Seeman called for reports from council members, Verinder rose. "I have a short statement I'd like to read, with a lot of emotion," he said, and announced his resignation, effective Oct. 1, from the Town Council.
The council now has 45 days from Oct. 1 to appoint a new council member to finish Verinder's term.
"I have truly enjoyed the honor and privilege of representing the citizens of Vienna to the best of my abilities," he read. "I have done my best to demonstrate the qualities of leadership, trust and high ethical standards that the voters expected of me."
Verinder said two factors figured into his decision. One was the recurring difficulties resulting from a detached retina, for which he has undergone three operations since January.
Verinder later reported that he had difficulties getting around until he adjusted to the "monovision" that resulted from silicon gel in his left eye since his second surgery. "I've done well," he said. "I haven't hit anybody. They renewed my driver's license and everything." He said he expects a full recovery following one more surgery.
The other reason for his departure from the council is that he and his wife plan to move out of Vienna. His wife, Laura, he said, "has taken on a new business venture to establish and manage an executive bed-and-breakfast and retreat center for business and social functions."
"Yes, the commute to my job in Washington, D.C. just got a lot longer," he said. But you can't pass up the opportunity of a lifetime." Verinder works for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
His wife owns and operates Verinder Associates, a company that specializes in technology events and meeting planning, he later explained. The couple has entered into an agreement to lease the residential building on Kinloch Farm, a 1,400 acre tract in Essex County, near Fredericksburg, Va. The property owner still leases the land separately for farming and logging, he said.
Verinder said his wife will be close enough to hold onto her current clients and already has contracts to host weddings at the new property.
Continuing to read his statement, Verinder lauded the hard work and dedication of his colleagues on the council and in the management sector. "It has been an honor to serve with each of you as we devoted our time and energies to the citizens of Vienna," he said.
Most importantly, said Verinder, he was grateful to the town's citizens. "In my opinion, the glue that holds Vienna together and creates that unique 'town feeling' is not its bricks and mortar, not Town Hall, not Maple Avenue, but rather, its people," he said.
FOLLOWING VERINDER'S announcement, although he had informed the council of his decision beforehand, colleagues imparted their formal well-wishings and good-byes.
Seeman sympathized with the difficulty of making such a statement. "Words really can't express my appreciation for your service," she said.
"I've become accustomed to your depth as far as planning is concerned," said Councilmember George Lovelace. "You have a great record as a planning commissioner, and you brought that with you to the council." He said he hoped Verinder would share his knowledge with Essex County.
Councilmember Laurie Cole noted that she and Verinder had served together on the Planning Commission. "So I have many years of experience of appreciating the quality of your work," she said. "All over town, we're all going to miss you very much."
"I think that just to say you're a true gentleman pretty much sums up Syd Verinder," said Councilmember Maud Robinson. "And I mean that sincerely."
"You will leave a hole," Councilmember Edythe Kelleher told Verinder. "You've always been a gentleman. You've always been prepared. You've always shown great courage and wanted to do the right thing and get in there and work hard."
Councilmember Mike Polychrones noted that he, too, had served with Verinder on the Planning Commission. "You've been a good friend and a good colleague, and there's not much I can say beyond that," he said.
"We always knew we had to be prepared when you were there at a meeting, because you come up with the questions," said Town Manager John Schoeberlein, adding that Verinder had also been consistently fair and professional.
After the meeting, Verinder said that next Monday, while his by-then-former colleagues are sitting down for the first meeting of October, he will likely watch Monday night football, beginning at kickoff. "Maybe I'll go to the Vienna Inn and enjoy it," he said.