Plainfield Park Officials Mum on Staff Promotions

A special meeting to discuss personnel has been cancelled, according to the park district.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the special meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday has been cancelled.

Plainfield Park District officials on Monday announced the promotion of two longtime employees, Gene Coldwater and Joe Masters.

Coldwater previously served as superintendent of parks, but that title was recently changed to "director of parks and project management," according to the park district website. On Monday, however, the park district reportedly issued a press release stating that Coldwater had been promoted to the position of assistant executive director.

Masters, meanwhile, will temporarily take over the director of parks and project management post.

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  • The promotion means Coldwater now serves directly under executive director Garrett Peck, who was hired in May.

    Coldwater replaces Cameron Bettin, who reportedly resigned just before New Year's. In a release issued at the time, Peck said that neither Bettin's position nor that of landscape architect James Less, who also resigned, would be filled, and that the planning department would be eliminated.

    Peck and park district spokesman Doug Booth failed to respond to inquiries from Patch about the apparent change of plans. 

    "They said they weren't going to fill the positions," board commissioner Mary Kay Ludemann said. "It's bizarre."

    Ludemann noted that both Masters and Coldwater are longtime park district employees, but said she disagreed with keeping the assistant executive director position.

    "That was a position we never had in the past," she said. "That was a position that was created when Cameron was demoted," she said, referring to the fact that Bettin was originally hired by the previous park board to replace retiring Executive Director Gregg Bott.

    That changed in May, when a new board majority hired Peck, and amended Bettin's contract to make him the assistant executive director. Bott's contract was also amended, and he retired six weeks ahead of schedule.

    "It's nothing against Gene," Ludemann said. "I just don't agree with even having an assistant executive director ... That was a position we never needed in the past."

    Coldwater's salary, listed as $82,500 on the park district website, reportedly will not change as a result of the promotion.

    A Jan. 20 press release regarding the promotions was not sent to Patch, and park officials did not respond to several requests from Patch to be put back on the media contact list.

    On Tuesday, Peck did send a note to Patch saying the park district has "discontinued communications with the Plainfield Patch until further notice," saying he did not like Patch's coverage of the park district and disagreed with Patch's comment moderation policy.

    "The statement I will make without consulting with staff is for you to find another fish to fry, the Park District is no longer your piñata," Peck wrote in an email to Patch.

    Special meeting cancelled

    On Tuesday afternoon, the park district that a special meeting of the park district board of commissioners, originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, has been cancelled.

    The purpose of the meeting was to hold a closed-session discussion on personnel, according to the park district.

    Jimmy Parks January 21, 2014 at 01:49 PM
    Looks like cry-baby Peck has taken his tic-tac-toe game and gone home. The Plainfield Park District is not the pinata, you are Peck. All the frying you have done to the residents is coming back at you. You deserve it
    Vicky Polito January 21, 2014 at 02:19 PM
    Hmm. I've surely been guilty of clumsily mixing a metaphor in my day, but frying fish that comes out of pinata? Is this some new carnival delicacy, like deep fried Twinkies?!
    Bad News Bears January 21, 2014 at 02:53 PM
    I have a feeling that they want to keep the Assistant Executive Director position because they possibly have another friend who needs a job. I read in the Enterprise that Mr. Coldwater is close to retiring #YourConnivingWaysAreBecomingObvious
    YeaBigGuy January 21, 2014 at 03:10 PM
    does anybody else openly wonder if someone (who could that be?) at the PPD is the one flagging inappropriate comments in the previous PPD thread? Especially with the comment above about him disagreeing with the "comment moderation policy?"
    Tim January 21, 2014 at 03:21 PM
    So the guy who was the one who forwarded this email to the news media, is now upset at how the news media is reporting his actions in the email? Is it not obvious to him that he is the cause of all his problems?
    Tim January 21, 2014 at 03:53 PM
    @BNB - the comments in that thread have been restored by Shannon(The editor). She has done an excellent job running this site, and we should not forget the tireless work she has done in keeping us updated on these seemingly never-ending situations at the Park District and other governing bodies in our area. She deserves as many accolades as we can giver her for her work here.
    Vicky Polito January 21, 2014 at 04:00 PM
    BNB/anyone--the comments, as far as I know, were those of Tim and the system worked in this sense, though it did put some lag in the process and flow: a person flags a comment as inappropriate and for legal safety it goes to a hopper of such posts for editorial review. Shannon Antinori, the editor, reviewed them and finding no infraction to the Patch posting policy restored them. Just look for Tim's posts and you'll see what you missed.
    Bad News Bears January 21, 2014 at 04:09 PM
    Believe me, Shannon and/ or the Patch is not the object of my disdain. Keep up the good work Shannon
    Joel Craig January 21, 2014 at 07:48 PM
    "It's nothing against Gene," Ludemann said. "I just don't agree with even having an assistant executive director ... That was a position we never needed in the past." Says a lot about the abilities and knowledge of the current Executive Director apparently.
    Jimmy Parks January 21, 2014 at 07:59 PM
    Gene is not qualified for that job, period. When you consider that the moron that made this promotion is not qualified for his job either, yes you Peck, you start to understand the word dysfunctional. But, Gene does as Peck tells him to, so a promotion with no pay increase must have made sense to be Peck's puppy.
    Shannon Antinori (Editor) January 21, 2014 at 10:58 PM
    JustAnOpinion, you were right, but you used the inappropriate word in your own post, so I had to remove it too. Thanks for giving me a heads up.
    Saluki January 21, 2014 at 11:20 PM
    JOP I agree on your first point, but I think calling Peck a "moron" would only offend other "morons". I know I wouldn't want to be lumped in the same group as Garrett Peck!
    Vicky Polito January 22, 2014 at 09:24 AM
    In the statement Garrett Peck made on the promotions of Gene Coldwater and Joe Masters, he focuses sharply on the “trust” level of both men. It is clearly very important to Peck that he can trust them. I assume they trust Peck, too. A little advice to Coldwater and Masters: save every note, email, photo, memo, phone message, and text and keep an activity log. Trust is great but a little “insurance” in your pocket can come in handy, too.
    Frank G January 22, 2014 at 09:46 AM
    Jimmy, please don't turn on the park district employees. Of course Gene is going to do as Peck tell him to, Peck is his boss. To not do what the boss tells you to do is called insubordination, and will get you fired. I've been in that position at a former employer, and it's not fun. As frustrating as this situation is for us as members of the public, try to remember that the people who work there have to stare it in the face every minute of their work day and can't say or do squat about it. They've got it the worst of all of us.
    Jimmy Parks January 22, 2014 at 09:52 AM
    @Frank G, thanks. Sorry for going off course with that comment. JP
    Vicky Polito January 22, 2014 at 09:52 AM
    Ugh, yes! I feel for anyone working at PTPD these days, particularly anyone in direct physical proximity to Garrett Peck. The level of tension and worry must be nearly unbearable. I hope that the good staff there all get through this ordeal well and can be happy and productive again soon at work they've ALWAYS done with lots of heart and energy and real dedication to the mission of the district.
    Tim January 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM
    Here's the problem with what Hurtao is saying in his apology... (I apologize for having to post this here, but it is not being allowed to be posted in the joliet patch story) When this board majority first appointed peck, peck had current cases filed regarding violating freedom of speech on this very site, and was attempting to get the subscriber information of various posters. One of those posters(yours truly) lawyered up and fought to protect the constitutionally protected right of free and anonymous speech. AND WON! These cases were pending when this board majority appointed peck to the exec director position. Were you all unaware of this? Did you appoint him anyway even while being aware of it? And that is the reason nobody believes this jumble of words released by Hurtado. Either the board majority knew about the cases and still appointed this 'man', or you didn't know about the cases and have shown just how sloppy of a process this appointment was(With no interview or background check). Anyone that has paid the slightest bit of attention is not surprised by this, as this is exactly the same behavior that peck has displayed before. It is no surprise to anyone that he is doing it yet again. But this time, the board majority is sharing in the responsibility of putting him in the position to do so, instead of just being some whining crazy-person on the side of the road. There is no deflection for Hurtado to accomplish, he shares in this disaster. He can not distance himself from the situation that he was the primary architect in creating.
    Josh Herrara January 23, 2014 at 03:10 PM
    @ BNB Peck and Hurtado and company have already hired 10 friends in the maintenance department. How many more friends can they have in need of work? More importantly how many more can us tax payers afford to pay?


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