On his second to last day as village administrator, Chuck Biondo looked decidedly casual, at least by his standards. Sitting with his feet up on his desk, sans suit jacket, wearing a crisply pressed shirt open at the neck with no tie, he admitted it all was finally starting to sink in.
Last Thursday he spoke about where he’s been, and what the future holds for him:
“I’ve purposely not given that a lot of thought,” Biondo said. “But as I started taking things off the wall, I
think the reality was finally starting to settle in, that it’s going to be my last day tomorrow. I think you can’t work in a place for a long time and not have built several strong relationships, and I’ll miss those,” he said.
Of the five months since he announced his retirement, he said, staff has been “coming up to speed,” and that, said Biondo, is due primarily to his successor, Steve Gutierrez.
“A friend of mine said Steve’s been doing a lot the last two years anyhow. He didn’t think I’d been doing so much the last two years,” Biondo said with a laugh. “It’s a different position for Steve, and he’ll recognize it as soon as he hits that chair [Monday],” said Biondo. “It hit me when I came here 20 years ago, and it’ll hit him as well.”
Time off, then a new career
Biondo’s immediate plans involve something he hasn’t enjoyed much the past 20 years-a full two-week vacation, skiing in Colorado. After that, Biondo will go to work for Kane McKenna Associates, a financial advisor that does TIF work and bond issuance for various municipalities, including River Forest.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “It’ll be familiar enough for me to use some of the skills I’ve learned in a municipal setting, but will also give me an opportunity to do something new.”
He won’t stay 20 years, though. Biondo negotiated a one-year trial period to see if the job was a good fit. “After that, I told Phil McKenna I’d commit to 3-5 years.”
That would bring Biondo to age 62 and full retirement. A physical fitness buff, Biondo said he has a few other interests he’d like to indulge.
“I’d still be young enough where I could do some of the things I’m going to put off now,” he said. “I have a couple of personal goals I’ve always wanted to do.”
Village in good shape
“I think the village is well served by its staff. I’d love to take credit for that, but we’ve hired some good people, and they do a fine job. I’m proud of that.”
He also believes there’s good rapport between staff and community. “Residents don’t always get the answer they’d like to hear,” he noted, “but hopefully they get one in a manner that’s respectful and informative.”
Biondo’s also proud of the economic development the village has undergone. That, he said, was facilitated by the creation of the Development Review Board, which streamlined a previously complicated and burdensome review process for economic development.
“I think the village board and the president in particular have driven economic development to a level that isn’t seen in many communities our size.”
Of particular note, of course, was the River Forest Town Center that replaced the old Weiboldt’s site, which Biondo calls “the cornerstone of our community.”
Biondo said no single thing stands out from his 20 years of service.
“I don’t know that there’s any big light that comes on,” he said. “Or any pearls of wisdom. But I think [it’s] the idea of not trying to take things personally, of trying to provide information to everybody, not just one side or faction. And trying to treat people with respect.” He feels confident that attitude will stay in place after he’s gone.
“I don’t need to ingrain that in Steve or the staff, because I think they already understand that,” said Biondo.