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.
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 cancelledOn 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.