Plainfield Park District Timeline

A look at the events leading up to Executive Director Garrett Peck's resignation.

Garrett Peck speaks to a reporter during a protest rally outside the Plainfield Park District recreation/administration center in May. Credit: Shannon Antinori
Garrett Peck speaks to a reporter during a protest rally outside the Plainfield Park District recreation/administration center in May. Credit: Shannon Antinori
The resignation of Executive Director Garrett Peck on Thursday was just the latest event in a tumultuous year for the Plainfield Park District.

Peck, who continues to serve as a Plainfield village trustee, was hired in May, taking the place of outgoing Executive Director Greg Bott — even though former Superintendent of Planning Cameron Bettin already had a contract to take over the role.

Here's a rundown of the events leading up to Peck's hiring, and what's happened since:

March 14, 2013: Cameron Bettin signs contract to become executive director upon the retirement of Greg Bott. He was to take over on July 1, 2013.

April 9: Janet Silosky and Peter Steinys, who ran unopposed after two other candidates dropped out of the race, are elected to the board, creating a new board majority with Peter Hurtado.

May 8: New board is seated; Hurtado is elected board president. Also, Peck is named board secretary.

May 11: At a special Saturday morning park board meeting, Peck is named interim executive director. The board also votes to amend Bott's contract so that his retirement would come six weeks ahead of schedule.

May 22: Upset about changes including Peck's hiring and Bettin's demotion, residents hold a rally outside the Plainfield Park District recreation/administration center.

June 27: Board majority votes to award Peck a three-year contract, at $110,00 per year to start, to be the permanent executive director. Bettin's six-month contract is amended, making him the assistant executive director.

Aug. 29: AFSCME Council 31 files a complaint alleging that park district officials violated the Illinois Public Labor Act by interrogating employees regarding their union-related activities. Peck is accused of disciplining and ultimately firing one employee for talking to coworkers about unionizing.

December: With his contract ending on Dec. 31, 2013, Bettin resigns, along with the only other member of the park district's planning department, landscape architect James Less. Peck issues a release saying the jobs will not be filled, and the planning department will be eliminated to save money.

Jan. 9, 2014: The Illinois Labor Relations Board issues a ruling that the park district did, in fact, violate the public labor act by retaliating against an employee for union activity. The park district is ordered to reinstate the employee with backpay. The ruling came after park district attorney failed to respond to the complaint on time.

Jan. 20: The park district announces that former Superintendent of Parks Gene Coldwater has been promoted to the position of assistant executive director. The post had recently been vacated by Bettin. Another employee, James Masters, was also promoted to the position of director of parks and project management, a newly created job.

Jan. 21: Peck issues a press release on behalf of himself and his staff saying the park district no longer recognized Plainfield Patch as a "legitimate media outlet" due to dislike of Patch's coverage of park district issues and comment moderation policy. Hours later, Hurtado issues an apology to Patch, calling Peck's comments "uncalled for and in no way keeping with the standard of respectful communication that we all need to live by."

Jan. 22: Media outlets, including Patch, break the story of the Illinois Labor Relations Board ruling. Board commissioners say even though the ruling was issued Jan. 9, they did not find out until Jan. 21.

Jan. 23. Peck resigns.

Jan. 24: A special meeting is scheduled to discuss steps to hire a new executive director, as well as the steps that must be taken to comply with orders from the labor relations board.
Scarlett P. Ramirez January 24, 2014 at 04:04 PM
Hey Gary, The Patch is not 'riding the horse until it drops' it's reporting news that we, the readers want to know about. For instance, I wasn't aware of all that had happened, now, I know. But thanks for stating your opinion. And in case it escaped your myopic view, The Patch Plainfield focuses on Plainfield news. What's going on with the PPD is current and very important to so many people. Rag on, Patch!
Vicky Polito January 24, 2014 at 04:47 PM
And, apparently Gary Gnatz will follow every story on the Patch until he drops. It's a little like the old joke about the two old ladies at a diner complaining about the food. One says "Oh, this food is terrible!" And the other says "Yes! And the portions are so small!" If you don't want to read a story or aren't interested in a topic, just skip it! There ARE other people.
Kathy rios January 25, 2014 at 05:11 PM
Hey lay off Gary!! He's right. Not just about the patch but all media. He's entitled to vent about the constant peck coverage. It's like bieber coverage. It's annoying to see but I'm not gonna stop watching the news because they can't shut up about it. I do appreciate the news the patch puts out there. But I too am ready to move on.
Joe Schmo January 26, 2014 at 12:58 AM
The difference between Peck coverage and Bieber coverage is Peck dragging down the Park District effects the quality of Plainfield residents lives....Bieber never hurt no one
Lance Stevens February 07, 2014 at 11:09 AM
And remember this....Peck's right hand man, Mark Batinick is running for state rep...you think things were bad with Peck and the Park District, wait to Batinick gets to Springfield and alienates the Republicans in power with his extreme agenda and threats to state leadership... Good thing Tom Cross got all those roads built and infrastructure projects funded..cause if Batinick wins, Plainfield and Oswego are getting nothing..


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