'A positive people person': Carol Stream park director is calling it a career
Looking back on his career, Jim Reuter takes special pride in a veterans memorial dedicated four years ago in Carol Stream.
It literally took a village to build the Town Center memorial to military service. Reuter, the executive director of the Carol Stream Park District, served on a task force with veterans and village leaders who spent three years fundraising for the project.
"He was very instrumental in getting that off the ground and finding a nice home for it," Carol Stream park board Vice President Brenda Gramann said.
After nearly 40 years in parks and recreation, Reuter has announced plans to retire in July. The construction of the veterans memorial plaza ranks as one of his proudest personal achievements because it brought many volunteers and community groups together, officials said.
"The thing that first comes to mind with Jim is he is such a positive people person," Gramann said. "He knows the names of everyone in the district, greets everyone with a smile and a hello. He pitches in to help with everything from cleaning windows to the executive decisions. He's been a pleasure to have, and it'll be hard to see him go. But I'm very happy for him."
Sue Rini, the district's current deputy director, will succeed Reuter upon his retirement July 21.
Gramann, who has been on the board since 2001, said Rini is well-qualified and well-respected within the industry.
"We talked to our key senior leadership team, just to make sure that they were all on board with the direction that we were considering in promoting Sue, and absolutely, she had without any hesitation, everybody's full support," she said.
Gramann also played a role in Reuter's hiring in 2014. Officials had just opened the two-story, 90,846-square-foot Fountain View Recreation Center and wanted to "keep the ball rolling with the same momentum." Commissioners selected Reuter, then the director of the South Elgin Parks and Recreation Department, for the top job in the district.
"We chose him, and I think I speak for every commissioner that we made the best decision. He did a great job," Gramann said. "He was just what we needed at the time."
During Reuter's tenure, the district received $1,754,996 in grants that helped support more than $3,942,640 worth of projects, officials said. He oversaw renovations of the Simkus Recreation Center, neighborhood parks and the mechanical systems at Coral Cove Water Park.
This spring, Reuter and the board broke ground on one of his last major projects: a $2.1 million renovation of Community Park in the far southeast corner of Carol Stream. Officials say it fulfills a longtime goal of improving recreation in an underserved part of the community. Residents of neighboring apartment complexes will enjoy a new playground, zip line and soccer facilities, among other amenities.
"The upgrades are just going to be fabulous," Gramann said.
Once retired, Reuter plans to continue volunteering for Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and as the chairman of the Elgin Parks and Recreation Foundation. The nonprofit funds youth scholarships allowing kids to participate in recreational programming.