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Plainfield Park Board Hires New Interim Director

While that issue passed by a unanimous vote, a resolution to support legislation to expand the board by two members failed, in part due to the absence of two commissioners.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Due to the absence of two members, the Plainfield Park District Board of Commissioners failed to pass a resolution in support of House Bill 5593, which would increase the board from five to seven members.

But the three members who did show up — vice president Janet Silosky and commissioners Mary Kay Ludemann and Larry Newton — voted unanimously to name retired Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Richard Grodsky to the role of interim director. That decision, according to board attorney Matt Campbell, had enough votes to be binding.

Board president Peter Hurtado and commissioner Peter Steinys did not attend Thursday's special meeting.

Grodsky will begin his new role on Monday and stay until a new director is hired in July, according to Ludemann. That will free up current interim Executive Director Gene Coldwater to go back to his longtime role as superintendent of parks.

"Gene's wanted to go back to his position," Ludemann said, noting that spring and summer are the busiest times of year for the maintenance department.

Ludemann said Grodsky will be paid $75 per hour, working a maximum of $15 hours per week. 

Silosky said Grodsky, who recently retired after 15 years as the director of the Elmhurst Park District, was recommended by the Illinois Association of Park Districts. The IAPD is also conducting the search for the permanent executive director on behalf of the park district.

"He's highly recommended and he's got a lot of credentials," Ludemann said of Grodsky.

Commissioners support expanding board

The three members who showed up to Thursday night's meeting were all in favor of making the board larger — but their opinions on how to do that were split.

Campbell initially told the three members that they could go ahead and pass the resolution to support House Bill 5593 with a 2-1 vote in the absence of Steinys and Silosky. However, he later corrected himself, saying the vote would have had to be unanimous to be binding.

While Newton and Ludemann voiced support for the House bill, Silosky said she preferred to add two new members by passing a local resolution.

"It makes sense to enlarge [the board] from five to seven members" in light of the size of the district, Silosky said, noting Plainfield is the ninth largest park district in the state.

"But that can be done in house," Silosky said, adding that even if the House bill does pass, "it could wind up in the courts" due to questions over whether it is unconstitutional.

Silosky said she takes issue with the fact that the House bill would allow the two new members to be appointed by state legislators. After serving an initial term, the seats would then be up for election.

"From a legal standpoint, it opens up a Pandora's box," she said. "Bills that are passed with the best of intentions can have unintended consequences."

Ludemann pointed out that passing the resolution locally would mean that the new members would not be added until the April 2015 election.

"I personally support the House bill," she said. "I agree with increasing our board for better representation due to the size of our district."

Newton also voted to support the bill.

"One hundred members of the General Assembly and much of the public recognized that our situation here is unusual, thus the need for the special legislation," he said, adding that while the park district's situation — marked by controversy in recent months — is not ideal, "I think in this case, [the bill] is appropriate."

The bill, which has the support of State Reps. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed the House last week and will head to the Senate for a vote.

With two absent board members, the 2-1 vote was not enough to pass the measure, Campbell said. The issue could be revisited at the next board meeting.

A motion to pass a local resolution to add two board members was tabled until the next board meeting due to the absence of Steinys and Hurtado.

"I think I know how the vote will be," Silosky said before making a motion to table the issue.

The next park board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 14 at the Heritage Professional Center, 24023 W. Lockport St.

Also worth a read:
Vicky Polito April 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM
Ericus A--we don't have a recall measure as it stands. Or, did I misunderstand and you meant "enact A recall measure"?
Tim April 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM
Thanks for that video Vicky. Did anyone else get the feeling that Silosky was being given 'practice' to hold meetings like this? She kind of gives herself away at the end of prt1 where she said "Well, Hurtado always did it this way", as if she was following a set of directions given to her. Otherwise, why in the world would she want to emulate that guys behavior? It seems like she is being given the role of the public face for this group, because it is thought she is the 'least offensive' in the public eye. Which means she is somehow unaware that people still know that she is tied at the hip with peck... I can't say this enough times, but this is NOT about you Janet, it is about the park district. You have already decapitated your credibility. It is not coming back. It is gone forever. The ONLY action that you can take that would move the district forward, is to resign. There just is no way to sugar-coat this. You are the problem, along with hurtado and steinys. Your insistence on holding a vote for this resolution until the next meeting because 'you know what the vote is going to be' is a disgusting manipulation of the purpose of the park district. It is exactly this behavior that has given calls for your resignation in the first place. It was almost exactly a year ago where the three of these clowns had no problem at all appointing peck, without the other two board members present. Don't pretend to care that you care about the district, when it is plainly obvious that you only care about your little political kamikaze group.
Vicky Polito April 18, 2014 at 11:27 AM
I'm going to disagree on the point that Silosky was following Hurtado's methods. I took her statement to be more of a "oh, I didn't realize we could skip reading chapter and verse on going to closed session and just plainly state it was for personnel" (or, for land acquisition, etc., any reason generally covered by OMA regs). I thought on that bit all she was saying was that she assumed that was the way you had to do it because that's how it had been done/she'd seen the board pres do it and that's how the motion/agenda item reads in detail. I didn't see or hear anything suspect in what she said at that moment.
Tim April 18, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Fair enough. Under most circumstances I wouldn't be suspicious either. But these are not most circumstances. When I said that her credibility is gone forever, I guess my reaction is the result of that perception. No matter what she does, in my eyes she will always be seen as having an agenda to continue the behavior that brought all of us to this point. I will always see that subtext in all of her actions, which is why I call for her resignation. It's the tangible end result of the phrase 'losing the public trust'.

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