City's chief inspector steps down after 27 years
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on December 30, 2012 1:50 AM
In this screenshot from YouTube, Goldsboro Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra appears in a Parks and Recreation promotion as "The Most Active Man in the World.
Dec. 21 was the end of an era in the history of Goldsboro's Inspections Department as Chief Inspector Ed Cianfarra left his post after more than 27 years of employment with the city of Goldsboro.
Cianfarra's retirement comes just 10 days before the retirement of another long-time department head, Neil Bartlett, director of Public Works, as the city seeks replacements for two of its department head positions.
Looking back at his time with the city, Cianfarra said he has loved watching it grow and is proud of his work, for better or worse.
"Good or bad, I have been a part of everything that's been built in this city," he said.
Beyond the buildings he's inspected and permits he's handed out over the years, though, Cianfarra said he was most humbled just a few weeks ago, when a Christmas card arrived from a person he hadn't spoken with in years.
While in the field years ago, he had used the word "prejudice" with a citizen, who felt the word inherently contained a racial subtext. Cianfarra explained the word's full meeting -- a definition a college professor agreed with when the resident asked about it.
Cianfarra said the letter contained within that Christmas card explained that what Cianfarra had revealed to him and his wife that day years ago had greatly influenced the way they listened to and communicated with others.
Improving another man's lexicon would be considered a strange accomplishment for an inspector, but Cianfarra said it's a microcosm of what he had always worked for -- enhanced and open communication.
Creating better connections between the Inspection Department and the planning community had been a goal shared by he and city leaders throughout his career, he said, and he was thankful that each council had allowed him the abilities to attend planning and inspections conferences as they came up, allowing his department to stay on the cutting edge of new happenings in the state. Those opportunities led to him serving as president of the N.C. Building Inspectors Association along with other titles.
But Cianfarra wasn't only open to collaboration between those in his field -- he also donned a new persona in an effort to promote Parks and Recreation this year as "The Most Active Man in the World."
Cianfarra's character, based on the Dos Equis spokesman who is known as "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in commercials, appeared in four YouTube promotions, showing him swatting basketball shots, building impossible Jenga masterpieces and petting a stuffed alligator.
"I said "If it will help Parks and Recreation, I'll do it,'" he recalls.
Cianfarra was always one to speak his mind, which he said is important for those in his position.
"If you treat everybody fairly that approach has really helped," he said, adding that a chief building inspector must be "outspoken and not intimidated."
With a chuckle, though, he suggested his successor be a bit more diplomatic and less obnoxious than he had been.
"Nobody would ever say they didn't know where I was coming from," he said.
But now that he's retiring, Cianfarra said he's more concerned with where he's going.
He and his dog will be criss-crossing the country in his motor home as a testament to his parents, who were Italian immigrants that came to New York.
"My goal is to see the country my parents gave up everything they had to come to," he said.
Despite his itch to travel, he said Goldsboro has been his home ever since he came here through his stint in the U.S. Air Force.
And wherever his motor home takes him, he'll know he gave his all, over 27 years, to making his home in Wayne County a better place.