Rolling Meadows park director wraps up career spanning 39 years
One common trait of Rolling Meadows' old and new park directors, like many in their field, is that they've spent much of their lives in the parks.
Kevin Romejko, who started last week as executive director of the Rolling Meadows Park District, recalls fondly his time as a teen running a T-ball league where he grew up in Schaumburg.
"It's what I've known. It's what I've done. It's what I've loved," he said.
And for Amy Charlesworth, who wrapped up a near-four-decade career with the park district that included 17 years as executive director, it was vacation Bible camps and other parks jobs in her native Minnesota.
That was even before she graduated from Winona State University and saw a job posting for recreation supervisor in Rolling Meadows. She took the gig -- which included driving the Zamboni and making ice -- and eventually worked her way up the ranks to be the head parks boss.
It was during that time that she earned state and local accolades, including a recent lifetime achievement award from the Illinois Park & Recreation Association.
The agency labeled the park district as a leader in parks and programming, with ice and gymnastics facilities used around the clock by residents and nonresidents alike, and the growth of an in-house youth hockey team into its own league under Charlesworth's direction.
"There was always something new to learn and something different to offer the community," said Charlesworth, who capped off her 39-year career on Friday.
During Charlesworth's tenure, the park district added walking and biking paths, updated facilities for ADA compliance, made $3 million worth of ice arena and parking lot upgrades in 2015 at the Nelson Sports Complex, and improved nine parks.
"The goal was to have a different look and feel to each park, so it's a destination park," she said.
After Charlesworth announced in October that she planned to retire, the park board started collecting resumes for a successor. They received 19 applications, inviting some back for interviews in January, before selecting Romejko for the $125,000-a-year post. The board approved his three-year contract last Tuesday.
It's the first executive director job for Romejko, who was superintendent of business services at the Bartlett Park District since 2016, and previously director of administrative services at the Wheeling Park District and human resource manager and safety coordinator at the Palatine Park District. He also worked in facility management and programming at park districts in Schaumburg and Northbrook.
"He is a highly qualified individual with many years of experience," park board President Bill Cooley said in a district announcement. "We are confident that he will do a fantastic job as our executive director."
First up on Romejko's to-do list: overseeing a $600,000 inclusive playground and pickleball court project at Cardinal Drive Park. The board approved a contract for design work last week, with the upgrades scheduled to take place this summer.