Although the new equipment in Elmwood Park drew well over 100 people for its dedication ceremony last Saturday, there are still three former Elmwood Village Board of Trustees who think proper procedures weren’t followed regarding the project.
Jack Hovick, Brody Baer and Mike Krass resigned from their board positions during the Oct. 18 meeting.
Hovick told Lincoln Journal Star (LJS) reporter Hanna Muslic that the major conflict was the park project. In Muslic’s story, “Elmwood board members resign amid conflict” published Oct. 25 in the LJS, Hovick said the budget for the park improvements was set at $128,000, but that Village Board Chair Pat Wray allocated an additional $28,500 without gaining approval from the entire board.
Hovick told The (Plattsmouth) Journal that Wray and Park Commissioner Julie Anderson made a commitment to a contractor for landscaping in the park. “It was never brought to the board and the project was estimated at $29,000,” he said. “That’s not the way money is allocated.”
Krass was the first to resign from the board. In his resignation, according to Muslic’s article, Wray “makes decisions without consulting other board members,” and “does not honor decisions made by the board as a whole.”
Krass said the park project was also the final straw. He said the open meetings laws were not followed. “They put things on the agenda we’ve never seen when they should have been in our packets 24 hours before. There are a lot of fishy things on the board,” he said.
Hovick and Baer have called for Wray to resign or be removed from office.
According to Cass County Election Commissioner Nancy Josoff, petitions were made to recall Wray and were picked up Nov. 27. Petitioners have 30 days to get the signatures. Wray provided the election office a defense statement Nov. 22.
A special all-mail election has also been scheduled Dec. 12 to fill the three vacancies on the board left by Hovick, Krass and Baer. The election will have two races. One will determine the board members to fill terms through December 2018. The second ballot will determine a board member who will serve through December 2020.
In the meantime, Wray and other Elmwood citizens are sharing information about the project in a release, “What’s Real and What’s Hype: About the Elmwood Village Board and the Park Project?”
They are also meeting with Elmwood residents to explain the park project and answer questions about it.
The release notes that volunteers have provided labor and other services to the park. “Over the years, work to improve the park has continued with volunteer labor, local fund-raising and grants from different sources to pay contractors.”
The release also notes that the three board members who resigned did not volunteer any “any time or labor for park improvements or fund-raisers.”
The document also states the Park Supervisor held multiple meetings to plan changes to the park, which “only a few people attended.”
“Many residents offered support though they could not attend the meetings. The three village board members who recently resigned did not attend a single park planning meeting and did not inquire with the Park Supervisor outside of board meetings about the project.”
In his resignation, Krass writes that Wray’s actions as chair during meetings were rude, unethical and illegal.
“I can’t make it through a single meeting without some sort of fear you are going to yell at me,” Baer wrote in his resignation letter. “This is essentially you shunning me for my actions if they don’t agree with yours.”