Skokie parks director makes difference over long career
Skokie Park District Executive Director Mark Schneiderman retires this month after more than 25 years of employment with the Park District. Schneiderman was a big part of some major changes there. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media
Position: Skokie Park District Executive Director
Last day: June 28
Career in Skokie: Nearly 26 years
Age: 60 on June 30
Retirement plans: Move to Colorado to join family
Updated: July 22, 2012 6:14AM
It’s hard to imagine anyone leaving a job having seen more change than Skokie Park District Executive Director Mark Schneiderman.
When he leaves the Park District at the end of the month, it will be a different organization than the one he entered 25 years ago.
“I really don’t know how I’m going to feel,” he said about his last day, scheduled for June 28. “I’m still doing what I’ve always been doing. I’m still in the grind.”
The following day, his first full day of retirement, Schneiderman will turn 60.
Before he came to work in Skokie, Schneiderman served the Glenview Park District for 10 years, almost all of it as manager of its ice center.
“That was my passion coming out of college,” he said. “My dream was to run an ice rink. I was a hockey rink rat. I was in heaven.
“I thought this was the greatest job in the world.”
But the job was “24/7,” Schneiderman said, and he wanted to spend more time with his own kids. He took a job in Skokie as superintendent of revenue facilities, which offered more responsibility.
“I came from running just the ice rink in Glenview to running the ice rink, the pool, the golf course and some of the community centers here,” he said.
He was soon promoted to assistant director before his promotion to director in 2004.
When Schneiderman first came to Skokie, the Park District was going through rough times. There were financial and personnel issues that needed resolving before the district could move forward.
“Somebody had to step up and layer things with common sense,” he said.
Schneiderman was part of the solution. When he became assistant director, the playgrounds were still in poor condition, some of them unsafe, he said.
Every park, playground and almost every facility in Skokie was redeveloped over eight years, Schneiderman being one of the key players. The Park District sold bonds every other year to pay for the work, a practice still carried out for capital improvement projects.
Forty-two parks were renovated, $45 million spent. Programming, services and customer service also were enhanced during Schneiderman’s tenure.
It’s virtually impossible to use a Park District service without experiencing Schneiderman’s work.
Whether it’s the pools or a community center, the Exploritorium, the Tot Learning Center or the Emily Oaks Nature Center, the Skokie Sports Park or the Weber Leisure Center, the recent facelift of Skokie’s Skatium ice rink or the series of major festivals and events in Skokie, Schneiderman has been part of them all.
He will close this productive chap,ter of his life next week to open a new one by moving with his wife to Colorado to be closer to family.
They will drive to Denver immediately after Schneiderman returns home June 28 after his last day of work.
“For me, this job has just been a pleasure,” he said. “I come to work every day and it’s fantastic. I can’t wait to get involved in whatever I get involved in. And it’s different every day. It’s everything I could have asked for.”