Public works chief leaves River Forest

Cotter calls decision a tough one

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By Deb Kadin

Phil Cotter soon will say goodbye to River Forest and head to parts not-too-far north.

Cotter, who has been with River Forest's village government for 15 years, nearly three of them as public works director, will become public works director in Roselle.

An announcement of Cotter's departure came during a recent trustees' meeting.

His last day in River Forest will be March 4; he begins on March 5 in Roselle, a community more than twice as large as River Forest in terms of population and square miles. The department also is twice the size of River Forest's.

Cotter noted that Roselle is closer to home and it would provide more opportunities for professional development. That department oversees many tasks that River Forest does not, including wastewater treatment and fleet maintenance. 

"It was a difficult decision. I love River Forest. The people are tremendous, the town is beautiful. The presidents and the boards I've worked under are incredibly supportive of public works.  But I'm excited about the opportunity. And I'm excited about River Forest going forward."

Village President Catherine Adduci, who was a trustee when Cotter was named Public Works director in winter 2011, said it would be sad to lose him because he's been such an integral part of the community. "Sometimes you have to do things that make sense for the family. I wish him a lot of luck and good wishes. He'll do a great job for Roselle."

Voorhees Associates, a public sector recruiting firm, presently is recruiting for the open River Forest position, Village Administrator Eric Palm said. Palm said the village was looking to bring a new director on board by early May.

Palm said he is confident the village can land an excellent public works director. 

"He has a lot of institutional memory, you always like situations like that," Palm said of Cotter.  It is difficult losing someone of his caliber and experience."

The 45-year-old Cotter started as an administrative intern in River Forest in May 1999 and then went to Carpentersville where he became the assistant to the village manager. Six months later he returned to River Forest to work with Greg Kramer, who had been public works director for 25 years. Kramer retired in 2010; Cotter was named interim director. That job became permanent in winter 2011.

Cotter noted that the River Forest public works department is in great shape. He leaves, though, as the village tackles some major public works projects. The biggest will be the north side sewer separation project, which is presently in the engineering stage. Approximately 34,800 square feet of alley space within five alleys in the north end of town are being reconstructed with permeable pavers. The state transportation department is looking toward replacing the North Avenue Bridge over the Des Plaines River. That could pose challenges on Thatcher Avenue. 

Cotter and Palm are confident that the projects are in good hands. Cotter noted he would always be available to answer questions. 

"I will do anything I can before and after the transition of a new director," Cotter said. "I would do anything I can to help River Forest."


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John Rigas from River Forest  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 6:26 PM

Phil did a wonderful job for River Forest. He had very large shoes to fill from Greg Kramer and he did get them filled just perfectly. He is a true professional. I am very proud to have been part of the board that made him Director. He will be missed. Good luck Phil, I am very happy for you.

Gary Sullivan from River Forest  

Posted: February 21st, 2014 2:12 PM

Phil sorry to learn of your leaving. You were always nice to speak and work with. Take care and may all your waste water be clean and clear

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 20th, 2014 4:52 PM

Good luck, Phil. You've always been a fair and classy guy.

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