BEDFORD, N.Y. – Christopher Soi, a 13-year veteran of community recreation in Westchester, will assume direction next month of Bedford’s park and rec offerings.
Now the acting chief of Yorktown’s rec department, he succeeds William Heidepriem, who has been superintendent of the Bedford Recreation and Parks Department since 2001.
Soi, 45, will oversee rec programs in Katonah and the town’s other two hamlets, each with its own budget, each with its own pool and memorial park. Katonah Memorial Park, a 45-acre-plus presence overlooking the downtown area, was ranked as the most heavily used of the town’s three major parks.
A Rockland native and Dutchess resident, Soi brings to his new endeavor the experience he’s acquired in recreation leadership positions in four other Westchester municipalities.
Since 2006, he has served as a rec supervisor in Briarcliff, assistant superintendent (New Castle), superintendent (Ossining town and village) and assistant superintendent (Yorktown).
His expected departure from Yorktown has officials there scrambling to fill leadership vacancies in their own parks and recreation operation. The department’s chief since 2016, Superintendent Todd Orlowski, resigned last month to take up similar duties in North Castle. That left Soi, one of the department’s two assistant superintendents since 2017, as the acting head. The other assistant, Kyle Thornton, has been on medical leave but was expected to return this week.
The town board formally put Soi on the payroll—at $120,000 a year, effective Aug. 12—at its June 16 meeting, a week after conducting a series of closed-door interviews for the rec position.
“A lot of people threw their hat in,” Soi said of the interview process on July 9, “so I was pretty excited about being selected and having the opportunity to come here.”
At least one Bedford official, Comptroller Abraham Zambrano, has worked with Soi before. “Chris is a talented recreation professional and will be an asset to the town’s Recreation and Parks Department and the Bedford community,” said Zambrano, who was village manager in Ossining when Soi was managing its playgrounds and greenspace.
Soi said he plans to commute to his Cherry Street office from his home in Wappingers Falls, where he lives with his wife, Jessica, and daughters Jacqueline, 8, and Josephine, 4.
While eager to “come in and move the ball forward,” Soi said in a telephone interview, he will “take some time to do an assessment [and meet] with people in the town, including representatives of organizations.”
He also expects to talk with his predecessor in the superintendent’s chair. Heidepriem officially retired at the end of May but was held over by the Town Board as a per diem consultant, in part at least to smooth the transition to his successor. “I plan on speaking with him next week in more detail,” Soi said of Heidepriem.