When Larry Bolitho was asked about the North West Rail Link in 2008, he said his grandchildren had ‘‘more train tracks in their toy box’’ than there were to service a population of 160,000 in the Hills.
Six years on the rail project is on track and the Carlingford resident a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to local government and the community.
Mr Bolitho was a Hills councillor from 1983 and mayor from 2008 to 2012.
He said he was most proud of securing infrastructure that had been vital to the development of the area, such as the M2 motorway and the Loyalty Road Retention Basin.
About one third of Parramatta and sections of The Hills were prone to floods before the basin was built.
‘‘The flood mitigation works were vital because without them Parramatta would not have developed into what it is today,’’ he said.
‘‘By streamlining the development process [at council] we were also able to produce a surplus in he global financial crisis year.
‘‘Our staff turnover rate halved because I was able to create an environment where all staff and councillors have ownership of our strategic goals.’’
Mr Bolitho is the deputy chairman of the Floodplain Management Association and president of the Faith, Hope and Love Children’s Foundation, which helps children in the Philippines.
He is on the steering committee of mens christian event Men Leading the Challenge, and was once a Sunday school teacher.
‘‘There is a common denominator in my mind in that it was about imparting values that are vital to help build a strong and harmonious community,’’ he said.
He said the OAM was a great honour.