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Letter: New Park District Director Reaches Out to Community

Gene Coldwater was officially named interim executive director on Friday.

Gene Coldwater. Credit: Plainfield Park District
Gene Coldwater. Credit: Plainfield Park District

To the Plainfield Park District Community,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you. I have been employed at the Plainfield Park District for 21 years, the last 16 years as the Superintendent of Parks. As the newly appointed Interim Executive Director I want to reach out to you, our valued community members, and reaffirm our commitment to you.

There is no hiding the fact that the recent months have been turbulent and have led to much anxiety and frustration being expressed by the public. We are aware that there are those in the community who question whether a quality product can still be delivered to those who take part in park district classes and programs. To that, I can say without a doubt, that professionalism and quality programming has never left. Our dedicated staff has always taken pride in bringing quality events and programs to our community, and that will never change. 

You, the community, deserve the best in services from YOUR Park District. Nothing is more important to us than regaining the community’s trust, and we hope you will allow us the opportunity to provide the positive Park District experience you have come to expect and deserve from us. 

Yours in service,

Gene Coldwater

Interim Executive Director, Plainfield Park District

Plainfield Independent January 27, 2014 at 04:55 PM
The more you control, the less you will be trusted; the more you hand over control, the more trust you will earn. Ability may get you to the top, but character will keep you there. Until the remaining majority is gone, it will be extremely hard to earn my trust as a citizen of the park district. Good luck.
Tim January 27, 2014 at 04:59 PM
I appreciate Mr. Coldwater taking the time to communicate to the residents. Current events aside, what will be important are not your words in this position, but your actions. If you listen to your community, and show them you care about their opinions, I don't see any problems. When the time comes to move aside for the next director that has gone through an interview process, background check, and meets with full board approval I hope you will help ease that transition to make it smooth for everyone involved as well. Good luck.
Vicky Polito January 27, 2014 at 05:22 PM
We've always had great faith in and been very happy with the long-time staff at PTPD. They've always been hard working and friendly and just spent a very, very rough nine months trying to stay that course, doing their jobs under abysmally poor and discouraging conditions. I appreciate Mr. Coldwater's statement and hope he continues to put the mission of the district ahead of everything else, every day and in every way. As the Peck-picked successor to the executive director spot and as a manager allegedly involved in illegal action against employees per the Illinois Labor Board, he does not have my confidence for the job of ED beyond serving as a temporary stop-gap there. He was, let's face it, the last man standing this past week and that's probably not good enough for the long haul. I also wish him luck and as much success as possible until someone more fitting can be hired.
Bad News Bears January 27, 2014 at 06:00 PM
I'm sure the programming is still quality because, as far as I've heard, not many of them have been eliminated or replaced yet. My worry is with planning, leadership and communications. If that's not cleaned up fast, programming will eventually take a header into the porcelain throne #StillNotConvincedAllIsWell
Jimmy Parks January 27, 2014 at 06:18 PM
No confidence in Mr Coldwater. He was part of the violation that was recently uncovered. Until Hurtado, Silosky and Steinys are gone, there is no faith. After they are gone, Mr Coldwater needs to be investigated and acted upon accordingly. Words are cheap from all but Commissioners Newton and Ludemann.
John January 27, 2014 at 06:47 PM
I'm willing to give Mr. Coldwater the benefit of the doubt on the labor board ruling. Anything that has happened since Hurtado took over almost needs an asterisk next to it. Coldwater, I assume, has been able to keep his record clean if he has been the park superintendent for nearly 20 years. It was Peck AND Coldwater in the room when the alleged interrogation occurred, who do you really think was calling the shots there? Certainly not Coldwater. He does bear some level of responsibility if he witnessed an obvious wrongdoing and did nothing to correct it, but still, I don't think the labor violation would have ever happened if you removed Peck and Hurtado from the equation. At any rate, I hope he can keep things running properly until a qualified successor is found. Good Luck.
Tim January 27, 2014 at 07:00 PM
John, Those are my exact thoughts, and it is why I feel he deserves a clean slate. Where it goes next will be based on his actions. If he has any say in whether this labor appeal takes place or not, that would be a good way to define the direction he plans to take, for the whole community to see.
Frank January 27, 2014 at 09:36 PM
Tim and John make a good point. He could have been just the poor guy in the room that knew better and didn't really want to be there to begin with. We may never know the answer to that, but it will eventually flush out in word, action and deed. Any sane person knows that trying to interfere with employees' right to organize, through the use of any tactic, especially through the use of intimidation, is blatantly wrong.
John Simpson January 28, 2014 at 08:57 AM
Gene is just another Hurtado/Silosky Republican Tea Bag patsy. Wake up people! Remember to vote "NO" in support of Peck's boy's Balkema for Congress and Batnik for State Rep.
BD January 28, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Our town grew and the park district didn't grow with it. Little activity choices for kids, not enough space. Etc. - they need to expand!!!
Jimmy Parks January 28, 2014 at 04:40 PM
@BD makes a great point. We cannot grow and expand with Hurtado, Silosky, Steinys, Booth and Coldwater in place. They need to clean house and get people that know what they are doing.
Ericus Alanas January 28, 2014 at 04:58 PM
He's only the interim, meaning taking over necessary tasks/responsibilities until they find a qualified candidate. But maybe he can make some good changes.
Joe Schmo January 28, 2014 at 06:46 PM
BD- You are absolutely right. The park district has a population of about 100,000 and doesn't have the facilities to support adequate programming. The problem is that population growth in this area started in the mid 1990's when the state legislature enacted the tax which doesn't allow the park district to issue enough money in bonds to build a building without asking the taxpayers to approve issuing bonds and with it property taxes. They've tried a couple times to ask voters to approve a bond sale for projects but it didn't go through. Kinda sad that we don't have a rec center to work out in or even a gym for kids to play basketball.
Joe Schmo January 28, 2014 at 06:46 PM
Typo - enacted the tax CAP
Vicky Polito January 28, 2014 at 06:55 PM
There are other some local facilities for indoor work outs (example: the Y) and a rec center is a very expensive prospect for which there is no solid plan and no financial foundation yet to make it a reality. The bigger trouble with coming up with a plan and the money to do it is that this board majority and Garrett Peck have put our district in fiscal jeopardy with managing the money we do have badly, to the point of leaving levy funds on the table to save residents about eight bucks a year per household and--worse--spending down the contingency fund which will make it harder to recover from any disaster but more importantly will put our credit/bond rating at risk at the next annual audit. So, if we wanted to borrow for a bigger project we'd have a tougher time doing and it will cost more. Nice going, guys. They spent money on badly thought out raises and lawyer fees and all other manner of waste and it's going to cost us for a long while.

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