Peck was hired last spring amidst controversy, as former Superintendent of Planning Cameron Bettin — who had originally been given the job — was demoted to make way for Peck. Bettin reportedly resigned last month.
"We are now entering a critical period of transition," Hurtado said in an email to Patch, "one which will be characterized first and foremost by transparency and public involvement. It is vital on this occasion that the board forms a broad consensus in regard to who is eventually selected to fill the current vacancy.
"These priorities are not only principles to be upheld, but lessons learned," Hurtado added.
Park board commissioner Mary Kay Ludemann said she was surprised to learn of Peck's resignation Thursday afternoon.
"Officially, this was unexpected and surprised me," she said, adding she is "cautiously optimistic" about what will happen next.
"As a board we have to go forward now and decide who's going to take Garrett's place," she said. Peck is not seeking severance pay or a payout on his three-year contract.
Gene Coldwater, who was promoted this week to the position of assistant executive director, is taking over the role on an interim basis. Ludemann said she hasn't heard yet whether the board will be conducting interviews for a new executive director.
"There should be [interviews], but I don't know because there were none when they hired Garrett," Ludemann said. "Personally, I'd like to see Cameron come back, but we're still dealing with the same board majority" that made the decision to demote Bettin, she said.
Hurtado, meanwhile, took responsibility for the recent turmoil within the park district.
"When we were faced with this task a year ago, the new board under my leadership did not take sufficient measures to include residents in our decision making process," he said. "I take full responsibility for the contention that arose from these oversights and will do everything possible to ensure that the present undertaking promotes harmony and togetherness."
After recent criticism concerning the park district's public comment policy, as well as incidents where members of the public were ejected from park board meetings, Hurtado also encouraged residents to speak up.
"I encourage all interested members of the general public to attend our upcoming meetings and engage with the board during our search for qualified candidates to occupy this position," he said in his statement.
Ludemann said conversation regarding Peck's successor could happen during a special meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday in the lower level at the Heritage Professional Center, 24023 W. Lockport St.
The agenda calls for closed-session discussion regarding a recent ruling by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, which found the park district to be in violation of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act.
The ruling came after AFSCME Council 31 filed a complaint alleging that Peck and Coldwater had interrogated employees regarding their involvement in unionizing.
One staffer, Joel Schumaker, was also reportedly disciplined, reassigned and ultimately fired by Peck in retaliation for talking to coworkers about forming a union.
Prior to announcing his resignation, "Garrett had asked the board for direction on how he thinks we should proceed with this," Ludemann said.
She said the park district has until Feb. 8 to offer Schumaker full reinstatement, with back pay, to his previous position. That has yet to happen, according to Ludemann.
- Park Board Member Calls for Spokeman's Resignation
- Peck Resigns from Plainfield Park District
- Plainfield Park District Retaliated Against Pro-Union Employee: Labor Board
- Plainfield Park Board President Apologizes for Peck's Letter
- Plainfield Park Officials Mum on Staff Promotions
- Plainfield Trustees' Heated Email Exchange Goes Public