At last week's meeting, Steve Connors of the Naperville-based firm talked about what's happening with discussion on projects including the DuPage River Trail, DuPage River Trail bridge, and proposed parking lot improvements at Four Seasons Park.
Board member Mary Kay Ludemann noted that, given the turmoil within the park district, it was a tense time for Connors' presentation.
"Obviously, this is not a good time for you to be here," she said. Ludemann also said she doesn't support keeping Hitchcock on as a consultant, but would rather see the return of the Plainfield Park District planning department.
"I would be happy if we had our planning staff back," she said, referring to Superintendent of Planning/Assistant Executive Director Cameron Bettin and Landscape Architect James Less, who reportedly resigned in late December.
Fellow board member Larry Newton agreed with Ludemann.
"I think it's the wrong decision to choose a planning consultant," Newton said at Tuesday night's meeting, but also acknowledged the tension by telling Connors, "I think you're put in a tough position."
Connors said Hitchcock has already billed the park district about $2,000 for its services, and expects the total to be around $5,000 through the end of January.
If that trend continued, Ludemann noted that the park district would pay Hitchcock $60,000 for the year.
"I can't support your firm at this time," she said.
At least one board member seemed to support the consultants. Peter Steinys said dealing with Hitchcock is a "breath of fresh air," adding he didn't get the same level of communication from the previous planner, Bettin.
Interim Executive Director Gene Coldwater, who previously served as superintendent of parks, said Bettin was slated to meet with him to offer planning assistance.
Coldwater also hinted that continuing to work with a consultant may not work out in the long run.
"The day may come that we decide we need an entirely different setup," he said. "We're not sure there will never be a planning department." Former Executive Director Garrett Peck previously said job vacancies in the planning department would not be filled after the resignations of Bettin and Less.
"Whatever assists the interim director right now, I think that's the key focus," commissioner Janet Silosky said.
The next meeting of the Plainfield Park board is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at the Plainfield Township Administration Building, 22525 W. Lockport St.