By Nona Tepper
The former executive director of the Park District of Forest Park pushed back against claims that he hired a top official at the Roos Recreation Center as a favor to the president of the Park District board.
Larry Piekarz, who retired as head of the park district in October 2018 after working at the organization for nearly three decades, said he hired Andrew Doss as the manager and athletic supervisor of the Roos building based solely on Doss' work record and education credentials.
Andrew's father, John Doss, is president of the park board and head of the village's Department of Public Works. He hired his other son, John Ryan Doss, as a public works driver about three years ago. Piekarz said Doss never asked for any favors for himself or his children. Doss previously said any claim that Andrew was hired as a favor to him is "false."
"It was basically me and my decision" alone, Piekarz said. "So people who want to be mad, they should be mad at me. I just thought he deserved a chance at doing that job and he's proving himself and done a great job. If people want to blame somebody, they can blame me, but not John because John had nothing to do with it."
In May 2018, Piekarz hired Andrew Doss as the manager and athletic supervisor at the Roos Recreation Center, where he earns $41,000 per year. Piekarz said he is one of 11 full-time employees. Andrew holds a bachelor's degree in recreation and administration from Illinois State University and had worked full-time for the park district since May 2017 and part-time for the organization since May 2009.
Before finishing his degree, Piekarz said, Andrew interned at the park district. Once he finished his degree, he said, he saw hiring Andrew as a "no brainer."
"We try to promote from within because you try to reward people who are loyal and come back, especially the summer help who work hard," Piekarz said. "That was the case with Andrew, and his degree happened to be in parks and rec."
He said he intentionally did not consult his father, John Doss, or any other board member about the hire. "I tried to distance myself because he is a board member's son," Piekarz said.
He said he thinks a nepotism policy was presented at one time "years back," but that it was never voted on, and he doesn't remember the circumstances that led to the discussion. Piekarz added that he believes the park district should have a nepotism policy, but that it shouldn't restrict qualified relatives from receiving positions.
"In a small town, it's hard because everybody knows everybody or is somehow related to everybody," said Piekarz, who is retired but currently serving as the temporary director of the Streamwood Park District.