UPDATED AT 11:08 A.M. TUESDAY, JUNE 8
The newest episode in the strained relationship between the City of Yorkville and its public library has arrived.
Yorkville Mayor John Purcell has declined to reappoint three members of the Yorkville Public Library’s Board of Trustees, instead putting forth three new nominees for city council consideration during a meeting this Tuesday, June 8.
Purcell’s refusal to reappoint trustees Julie Brendich, Jason Hedman and Wamecca Rodriguez comes after the library board ended negotiations with the city in early May to relocate the city park’s department preschool program to the library.
But not-so-chummy relations have persisted between the city and the library for years.
“There’s just a lack of creative thinking there and there’s a lack of challenging the staff,” Purcell said of the library board.
The mayor’s new nominees for the board include Sue Shimp, a teacher at Lakewood Creek Elementary School in Montgomery and spouse of Yorkville School District Superintendent Tim Shimp. The other nominees include Tara Schumacher and Bret Reifsteck, a mortgage loan officer at Huntington National Bank, per his LinkedIn page.
While Purcell cited the preschool negotiations in his decision to install new board members, he added that library patron traffic has decreased over the years. In addition, library officials have floated becoming their own taxing body independent of the city, much like the Oswego Public Library District.
“They have less visitors all the time, less traffic all the time, and the answer is to raise taxes,” Purcell remarked. “That doesn’t fly with me.”
Library Trustee Jason Hedman, who voted to continue the preschool negotiations with the city, said he thinks the mayor intends to “replace the board.”
“My understanding is the mayor wants to take the library board in a different direction,” Hedman said. “He’s not happy I guess with the performance of the current board or the ability of the board to push library initiatives forward.”
Rodriguez, one of the other trustees not selected for reappointment, did not respond to a request for comment.
A board trustee for four years, Hedman feels the contentious dispute over the city’s preschool played a role in Purcell’s decision to appoint new trustees.
“I don’t know if that’s the only reason, but I do feel like how that was handled and how that transpired didn’t leave either side feeling too good,” Hedman commented.
While the city now has multiple new options for relocating the preschool, Mayor Purcell said those negotiations “opened my eyes on how archaic some of the thinking is” among library trustees.
The city’s top elected official took particular issue with claims that preschool children would be a detriment to library operations.
“If a library’s not a place for young children, who the hell’s it for?” Purcell said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said Yorkville Library Trustee Ryan Forristall was up for reappointment. The other trustee is Julie Brendich. We regret the error.