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Article updated: 12/17/2013 12:12 AM

Carol Stream park district begins discussion on director search

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The Carol Stream Park District kicked off its discussion on finding a new executive director at Monday's board of commissioners meeting, the first of many give-and-takes expected.

A committee of the whole meeting was scheduled for Jan. 6 to discuss the process of hiring a replacement for longtime director Arnie Biondo, who was named executive director of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District last week.

Biondo's last day with the park district is Jan. 8.

"I think the sooner we meet the better," park board President Tim Powers said. "What we bring out of tonight and the committee meeting is each of us have an idea of the priorities important to us, not necessarily with the person we're going to hire, but the process we're going to go through it."

The groundwork for hiring a new director has been in place for some time. Biondo himself was tasked with developing a succession plan over the last few years. In the immediate senior management will be charged with handling day-to-day details of their respective departments.

"I'm speaking for myself, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in our senior leadership team in transitioning through this process," Trustee Brenda Gramann said, "and I thank Arnie for the work he's done to make this as seamless a transition as possible."

Board Vice President Wynn Ullman asked his fellow board members to "give some of their general thoughts" that they'd like to see out of the process before the Jan. 6 meeting and gave an opinion he had.

"To me the No. 1 factor is what's everybody thinking for a deadline," Ullman said. "I don't even know what's a realistic time to seek out and find the best candidate. If we can find an agreement on that end date, that's almost the first step."

Trustee Brian Sokolowski voiced the thought that time was not so much of the essence.

The 60-year-old Biondo has been executive director since 1995 and Sokolowski called it "the best thing" a previous board did for the district. In Biondo's tenure the district twice received National Gold Medal Awards for excellence from the National Recreation and Parks Association.

"The most important thing we do as a board is hire an executive director," Sokolowski said. "Finding Arnie Biondo, that took some time. If we put a date in front of ourselves we might be shortsighting ourselves. Hiring the right person is the most important thing."

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