RJRD board disregards chairman and votes on strategic plan

by Sue Serdinak

Dec. 19 Richfield Joint Recreation District work session and meeting

The meeting was scheduled to adopt the strategic plan for the Richfield Heritage Preserve, an issue that was debated for most of 2022. Despite Chairman Anita Gantner‘s view that the board should postpone the vote, per the recommendation of legal council who cited the arrival of late information, a vote was later taken.

The framework of the plan was available to the public the Friday before the meeting, but the 800-page appendices with details of the plan were in a notebook that was unavailable to the public.

Gantner said that 10 minutes before the work session, the board’s lawyer advised postponing a vote. Mike Selig and Mark Robeson said they wanted time to review new material. Jeff DeLuca agreed, saying people sponsoring buildings should read the details of the champion program. 

Wehner asked, “Are we legally not allowed to vote on it, or is that just his advice?”

Said Gantner, “We will not vote on it tonight.”

Gantner added she regretted that Maureen McGinty would not be able to vote on the plan, because she is leaving the board this year. “I want to commend Maureen for her efforts to preserve the park. She has taken uncomfortable stands in the name of conservation,” Gantner said.

Many residents and members of the Friends of RHP asked that the vote be delayed until they could read the plan’s details, especially the parts relating to the tier and champion programs, regarding the demolition and sponsorship of old buildings in the park.

Township resident Kitty Butler said the champion program might unite the community.

Former Richfield Village Mayor Bobbie Beshara disagreed, saying, “Vote or you will never make a decision.”

In regular meeting that followed the work session, Dave Wehner moved to adopt the plan. He, McGinty and Sandy Apidone voted to adopt; Gantner, DeLuca, Selig and Robeson voted “no.”


In other business, Park Director John Piepsny reported that his expertise is in programming, and he plans to respond to residents’ requests to offer more programs in the park. “We need to figure out how to generate more revenue with our programs,” he said.

With that in mind, he recommended purchasing software to handle scheduling and fees and all aspects of programming.

Piepsny recommended hiring Susan Czaplicki as a part-time volunteer coordinator for $19 per hour. Czaplicki has held this position as a volunteer since 2017.  The board voted unanimously to approve Czaplicki.

The board also appointed former village mayor Mike Lyons to fill the seat vacated by McGinty. The village and township each make three appointments to the board and the board appoints one member.  ∞