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updated: 2/12/2011 4:55 PM

New Bensenville parks director has past citation

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Bensenville Park Board President John Wassinger said Saturday he thinks his organization took the high road in hiring Steve Cherveny as the Bensenville Park District's new executive director, despite a July citation against Cherveny for disorderly conduct.

Cherveny was cited July 2 on disorderly conduct charges claiming he engaged in "obscene/sexual conduct in public" at the McHenry County Conservation District's Fox Bluff Conservation area, according to McHenry County Court records.

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Cherveny, 48, admitted to a revised version of the charge July 19, stating he "disturbed others by engaging in loud conduct and in doing so breached the public peace." He was fined $216 and placed under 100 days court supervision, according to records.

Cherveny and the district's former superintendent of recreation, who also was cited for disorderly conduct, both resigned for personal reasons near the end of July, Cary Park District officials said.

"Yes, I'm cognizant, as well as everyone else that was on the board, that there had been this issue," Wassinger said. "It didn't have anything to do with his job performance."

Wassinger said the citation -- which he said carries about the same level of severity as a traffic violation -- did not appear on a background check the park board conducted on Cherveny during the hiring process. Yet, it did factor in to the board's decision making process, he said.

"We have to review a candidate that has well over a decade of not only service in a certain position, but also has been bestowed with numerous professional accolades," Wassinger said. "We have to see whether or not something that happens in his personal life is going to have any negative impact on what we expect from him as a professional. The consensus was that it is not."

The park board of commissioners chose Cherveny from more than 50 initial executive director applicants and six finalists.

Cherveny has 23 years experience in public parks and recreation, serving the past 12 years as executive director of the Cary Park District. He will step into his new role Feb. 28, taking the reins from Director Robert Jarecki who is retiring after 44 years with Bensenville.

During multiple interviews with finalists, the board was impressed with his accomplishments, Cherveney said, citing his experience in leading operations like Cary's profitable 18-hole golf course, aquatics program, a community and senior center and hundreds of recreation programs in more than 800 acres of parks.

His starting salary will be $97,000, which Wassinger said is below average for someone with Cherveny's experience. Cherveny was making $114,198 with the Cary district, documents show.

Cherveny is eligible for roughly $10,000 in bonuses if he completes three key goals: creating a fundraising foundation for Fischer Farm and help generate a level of funds to be determined later; establishing museum status for Fischer Farm so it will be eligible for grants; creating a 5-year master plan for the park district.

The Cary Park District, meanwhile, last month voted 4-1 to implement a new policy, which "strongly" discourages romantic or sexual relationships with a subordinate employee, stating they "may at some point lead to unhappy complications and significant difficulties for all concerned."

The policy says that supervisors risk termination if they fail to disclose their involvement in such a relationship to the executive director. If the executive director gets involved in such a relationship, he or she must disclose it to the board of commissioners. Officials said the policy was prompted by the incident involving Cherveny.

Daily Herald staff writer Elisabeth Mistretta contributed to this report.

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