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Get to Know One of Your Park Commissioners – Marie Todd

Commissioner Marie Todd, re-elected in 2015, explains why she first ran for the Board and what she has learned in her years of service. Commissioner Todd was recently appointed as Co-Chair Elect of the Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee for the Illinois Association of Park Districts, and has served as a Naperville Park District commissioner since 2005.

Commissioner Marie Todd

Q:  How did you first decide to run for office as a commissioner?

A:  Mary Lou Wehrli, a long time friend and past commissioner, encouraged me to run. I had no experience in public service and no inkling of running as a commissioner.  But I had experience managing large, long-term projects at a large company (Alcatel-Lucent) and wanted to support the Naperville Park District, which I think adds to the quality of life in Naperville.  Raising our daughter in Naperville, I coached softball and took her to classes and camps at the Park District, and I enjoy playing golf at the District’s courses. So I agreed to give it a try.  Although my first run was not successful, I was elected to the board two years later in 2005. 

Summer camp at Seager Park

Girls softball at the Park District

Q: What have you learned through your experience on the park board?

A:  I appreciate the discussions we have as a board and have learned that it’s important to be able to accept the final decision of the board as a whole, even if I voted against it.  As a commissioner, I’ve learned a lot about park districts, what our staffs do in different departments, and the complexities of finances and measuring success in areas such as golf. 

 

Board of Park Commissioners and Executive Director (L-R): Mike Reilly, Rich Janor, Jim Ensign,
Marie Todd, Gerry Heide, Kirsten Young, Bill Eagan, E.D. Ray McGury

Q: How has the Naperville Park District improved or changed its operations over the years?

A:  District departments are becoming more interdependent.  For example, the decision to bring the golf courses under the general Park District umbrella, rather than keeping golf as a separate enterprise fund, has helped golf keep up with capital projects and schedule them when they are needed.  Golf maintenance staff can better leverage similarities between their tasks and the parks department tasks.  With consistent leadership from the executive director and department directors, departments can focus on continuous improvement, efficiencies, and forward-looking goals.

Q: What are some of your favorite Park District projects that you are proud of?

A: The Seager Park Interpretive Center was our first step toward a nature center.  It’s perfect for the nature preschool and summer camps. It’s a great facility in a beautiful park. 

 

Seager Park Interpretive Center - photo by Lambros Photography

And our first major building project, the South Maintenance Facility, made sense as a way to keep the park maintenance equipment close to where it’s needed. That project showed what we could do in terms of a sustainable building and is a good model for the Central Maintenance Facility now under construction at Knoch Park. 

Knoch Knolls Nature Center is another great project, taking advantage of the acres of open space at the park. 

Knoch Knolls Nature Center

The Nike Sports Complex expansion is an outstanding addition to the community, with its synthetic turf field, the District’s second cricket pitch, and much more. 

Nike Sports Complex expansion - synthetic turf field

And of course, the new Fort Hill Activity Center is all that we hoped it would be, providing indoor space so that family members all can enjoy activities under the same roof.

Q: The Park District often works with other community organizations and businesses to fulfill compatible goals or bring benefits to the community. What are some examples of successful partnerships that you have seen?

A: I think the summer Concerts in Your Park is a fabulous program, supported by sponsors. Continental Motors once again is presenting sponsor this year, making it possible to offer the program free of charge. And without our ongoing partnerships with both school districts, we would not be able to offer all of our programs that meet in their gymnasiums. 

Concerts in Your Park

Q: What are some of the challenges and opportunities the Park District faces in the next few years?

A: We will get a plate full of things to consider when we receive the 2017 survey results.  The challenge will be how to address those needs.  There will always be something new, such as cricket, pickleball, field hockey or platform tennis, and also the long-standing demands for field space for sports like soccer and lacrosse.

Commissioners Marie Todd and Jim Ensign at a 2016 playground ribbon cutting

We want to hear from you

As Commissioner Todd mentioned above, the Naperville Park District is entering a season of planning, and will conduct a community survey of a random sample of residents and also will make the survey available online for anyone to complete. Watch our home page for updates later this spring and for an opportunity to provide your feedback.


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