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Oak Park Village Hall has a new boss — at least for now.
The village board announced Friday that its parking chief is replacing Village Manager Tom Barwin, a few days after the five-year administrator announced his resignation.
Cara Pavlicek, currently the interim parking services manager, will step in to lead village hall as interim village manager, starting on March 1. Barwin's last day is Feb. 29.
Pavlicek has worked for 20 years in municipal management, including 10 as a city manager. Most recently, she served as manager of Downers Grove for nearly three years before getting fired. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the community, alleging breach of contract, and was awarded $73,000, according to media reports.
Village President David Pope said Pavlicek seemed a logical choice to step in and lead the organization.
"We felt she brought a lot of experience and capabilities to the table, and given that she's been in Oak Park for the last few years, understands many of the issues and challenges we face as a community," he said.
Pope added Oak Park will conduct a nationwide search to find a new manager, a process that will likely take several months.
While board members refused to criticize Barwin this week, they did offer some insight into what they're seeking in a new leader. Trustee Colette Lueck said the next manager needs to be strong on making sure that village hall is organized properly and efficiently. Plus the new manager needs to know a little about economic development in order to bring several high-profile developments to fruition, especially on Madison Street.
"It's a big street for us. It's a big economic driver for us. There's a lot of commercial and retail square footage on Madison, so I think that's going to be a place where we really have to put a lot of attention," she said.
At a meeting Monday, Trustee Ray Johnson suggested that Oak Park needs to improve its building department, and pointed to such a state-of-the-art department in Houston as a possible model.
Trustee Bob Tucker said he wants the next manager to place an emphasis on intergovernmental cooperation and find ways to save money through cost sharing with other government bodies. He, too, said economic development is a key area in the future.
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