Oak Park names sustainability coordinator

Position has been vacant since departure of former coordinator in 2014

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The village of Oak Park has hired a new environmental sustainability manager, almost four years after the position last became vacant.

Oak Park resident Marynda "Mindy" Agnew was selected to fill the post and assumed the role this week.

Environmentalists and others have criticized the village for years now for leaving the job vacant following the departure of K.C. Doyle in March 2014.

Agnew was part of a group that procured grant funding for Oak Park Elementary Schools District 97 to develop strategies for composting, zero waste and resource reduction, according to a village press release. She also helped launch the village's composting program.

Agnew most recently has been under contract with the village on green block party and event coordination.

She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Elmhurst College and studied graduate-level sustainable management at the University of Wisconsin.

"Leading our community's efforts to embrace environmental sustainability has long been a personal mission of mine," Agnew said in the news release. "To be able to assume a leadership role in an official capacity is an incredible opportunity. I am looking forward to working with the village board, village staff and members of the community to articulate and implement programs that will help make Oak Park greener and even more environmentally sustainable."

Agnew's first order of business is implementing the single-use bag ban that begins on Jan. 1.

She also will oversee the community choice electricity aggregation program, pursuing grant funding for initiatives and will work closely with the village's Energy and Environment Commission.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Keith Strom  

Posted: November 18th, 2017 1:15 PM

Excellent Choice. Congrats Mindy!

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 17th, 2017 3:50 PM

@Craig - ok, so lets not make everyone pay more on their electric bill or garbage bill than they otherwise would have to. What an amazing idea it would be if when we pay our utility bills we get utilities, not programs and staff doing stuff we don't need. We are being layered with bogus services that have to be forced down our throat.

Craig Williams  

Posted: November 17th, 2017 2:57 PM

@Tom. This position was previously eliminated in either 2013 or 2014. It has been in the works to bring back when a previous board set up the Sustainability Fund and associated fees. More recently (maybe June of 2017) the current board voted on hiring for the position. The money for this fund comes from that 0.03 cents /kwh fee attached to electricity bills and I believe some amount of fees in Garbage Disposal (though not 100% sure on this piece) The revenue from the electricity fees is estimated to bring in $400,000/year with about $100,000 being allocated to employee labor (One Sustainability Coordinator). I'm sure the collection of the bag fee, could easily have been absorbed by someone currently working at the village and I'm certain other organizations in the village or even those on the environment and energy commission could have easily come up with ideas for sustainability in the village for free. You must remember though, by hiring someone to do the work, you can pat yourself on the back and say, hey we have someone in our village that is working on sustainability. Now for those that commented, this is terrific news etc. and will yell at me at Tom for wanting to save a few bucks. If this position wasn't hired out, Mindy would still be working on a volunteer basis in the community setting up sustainability programs etc. We're now just paying her to do the work she was already doing and have less ($100K or 25% of the yearly revenue) of the fees to spend on programs to help with sustainability.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 17th, 2017 1:55 PM

How many years does a job have to go unfilled before we can just save the taxpayers higher property taxes by saying that job was never ever needed to begin with? Can we recycle the tax dollars back to the community instead please. Now we have to pay someone to dream up new fees and costly programs as their little mission.

Christos Haralambidis  

Posted: November 17th, 2017 12:15 PM

YAY! Mindy!!!!

Laura Fogt Derks  

Posted: November 17th, 2017 12:05 PM

This is terrific news. Congrats Mindy and looking forward to working with you.

Sarah Abboreno Corbin  

Posted: November 17th, 2017 9:25 AM

Congratulations to Mindy! Such an appropriate hire!

Afton Surwillo  

Posted: November 16th, 2017 2:46 PM

Mindy is a great choice to fill this much-needed position. She has been working tirelessly for years on issues of sustainability with intelligence, creativity & a willingness to roll up her sleeves. (Not to mention that her enthusiasm is contagious!)

Shawna Seaton-george  

Posted: November 16th, 2017 11:03 AM

This is wonderful news! This is important and needed work in our community led by an active and engaged member of our community.

Krista Mikos from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2017 10:18 AM

Kudos to Oak Park for hiring Mindy Agnew as its new sustainability coordinator! Great news!

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 7:41 PM

They are charging $.10 for paper bags, which I reuse to collect my recycling. Which I'll may now just landfill if it is too inconvenient or unsanitary to manage without. I'm sure Ms. Agnew will be busy and productive, but is funding this positions a better investment than others battling for Village resources? Such as funding pension shortfalls.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park   

Posted: November 15th, 2017 5:02 PM

The article mention a single use bag ban? I though there was a new 10 cent tax, not a ban. If we have to use plastic bags more than once before disposing that could get ugly, given that most people use them for walking their dogs. If she is really about zero-waste, maybe she should review the fees that the Village pays for consultants.

Al Rossell  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 4:54 PM

Maybe should consider making retailers use the new type of bags that are bio- degradable rather than just adding another tax. Let the merchant charge a few more cents on a purchase to defray their extra costs. And while we are at it, the plastic utensils. The Carnivore butcher shop uses utensils that bio degrade. There are other ways to solve problems than just taxing people. The tax doesn't solve the real problem as people will just pay the extra nickel and we will still be filling up the landfills.

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