Warrenville park director retires after 17 years
Things weren't exactly rosy 17 years ago when Diane Dillow took the reins as executive director of the Warrenville Park District.
This was in August 1999 and the district was struggling on many levels -- especially financially -- after two failed referendum attempts.
Her task quickly became clear: Build relationships with other government officials and regain the community's trust.
Now, as Dillow prepares to retire at year's end, she says she can leave knowing the district largely has achieved those goals and come a long way from those dark days.
The district passed a referendum in 2004 and received roughly $6 million from the city in 2005 to build a recreation center. The full-time staff has grown from three to 14, and the district's financial situation is sound.
Dillow's last day in her office was Thursday -- she has vacation time to take her through the end of the year -- and she admits there have "been some tears this week" as she comes to grips with the many "lasts" of her tenure.
Her departure was made easier, she says, when park commissioners announced that Tim Reinbold would replace her effective Jan. 1. Reinbold has been serving as the district's superintendent of recreation since 2013 after stints with the Oakbrook Terrace and Lisle park districts.
"He's younger and has great energy," said Dillow, 66. "He brings enthusiasm, a calm demeanor, and he's good at intergovernmental relationships."
Dillow says the two worked together closely to help the district develop a Challenge Course that opened in October at Summerlakes Park. It's basically a timed obstacle course, she says, that's aimed for those 13 and older but can be converted for use by younger users, too.
Dillow has spent 38 years in the recreation business, including a three-year stint with Carol Stream Park District and 17 years with the Batavia Park District before assuming the top role in Warrenville.
She says her in-laws' recent health concerns prompted her to consider retirement and the time seemed right with a "great team" in place and Reinbold ready to step in.
But she's hardly ready for the rocking chair. "I'm an outdoor person," she said. "I love to kayak and bike. Now I won't have to run programs, I can take advantage of them."
"People always told me you know when it's time to retire," she said, "and you do."