Van Camp selected to replace Gilbert on Quincy Park Board; commissioners give consent for Bull House to apply for landmark status

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Pictured from left are Celeste Taylor, Hollis Axelrod, Roger Leenerts, Patty McGlothlin, John Frankenhoff, Barb Holthaus, Jeff Steinkamp, Dick Wellman, Vicki Dempsey and Michele Khoury. | David Adam

QUINCY — Jeff Van Camp has served his city in many capacities.

Besides his full-time job as executive director of the Chaddock Children’s Foundation, Van Camp was a commissioner for the Quincy Park Board from 2011 to 2015. He was a 6th Ward alderman, ran for mayor in 2017, is a past president of the Quincy Public Library Board of Trustees, served with Quincy Regional Crime Stoppers and now is a member of the Great River Economic Development Foundation board.

So when he heard the resignation of David Gilbert created an opening on the Park Board, Van Camp thought it was yet another opportunity to give back.

Van Camp was selected from a field of four candidates Wednesday night to be added to the Park Board. Also considered for the position were Jarid Jones, Alan Hickman and Mark Philpot.

“I know it sounds like a line, but the park system is so important to Quincy in so many different ways besides just the green spaces and the beauty that it brings,” Van Camp said after Wednesday’s meeting of the Park Board. “I’m also on the GREDF board, working very hard to recruit new people to come to Quincy and retain the ones we have.

“The park system is a key piece of that. It certainly doesn’t hurt that we have such a well-maintained park system, particularly for people coming in from the outside looking to relocate.”

“I know it sounds like a line, but the park system is so important to Quincy in so many different ways besides just the green spaces and the beauty that it brings. I’m also on the GREDF board, working very hard to recruit new people to come to Quincy and retain the ones we have. The park system is a key piece of that.”

— Jeff Van Camp

Gilbert accepted a position as the director of field services for the Old Hickory Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was elected to a four-year term in April 2021. Because of the amount of time remaining in Gilbert’s term, Van Camp only will serve as a commissioner until May 1, 2023.

Van Camp could then run again in the April election to complete the final two years of the term. The four-year terms of three commissioners — Jeff Steinkamp, Roger Leenerts and Nathan Koetters — also expire next May.

“The April election thing was kind of a curveball, to be honest with you,” Van Camp said. “I thought I was filling out an unexpired term. It’s hard to predict the future. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I’ll kind of take my temperature at the time and take the temperature of the rest of the board to see how things are.

“As you can tell from my history, I haven’t been shy about putting my name on a ballot when I thought I could do some good and help improve some aspect of Quincy.”

Five commissioners — Steinkamp, Leenerts, Patty McGlothlin, Barb Holthaus and president John Frankenhoff — met with the four candidates in executive session and made their choice afterward. Frankenhoff said Van Camp’s experience on the Park Board was a factor.

“It was an extremely tough decision,” Frankenhoff said. “This was probably one of the toughest I’ve had in being a part of an appointment like this. Jeff’s got a background with us. He’s going to understand the budget and hit the ground running.”

Frankenhoff also suggested to the other three candidates to consider collecting signatures this fall and running for election in April.

“I’d have absolutely no problem if they were part of the board,” he said.

Commissioners gave their consent for the Lorenzo Bull House, 1550 Maine, to apply for local landmark status. An ordinance will go to the Quincy City Council. Any future improvements to the Lorenzo Bull House, home of the Women’s City Club since 1932, do not need approval by the Quincy Preservation Commission as long as the Park District maintains the current architectural look of the building’s past.

The house was built in 1852. Long-time banker Lorenzo Bull and his wife, Margaret, lived in the home until their deaths in the early 1900s. Edward Parker and his wife, Elizabeth (Bull) Parker, then lived in the house. Edward Parker, who founded the Quincy Boulevard and Parks Association (now the Quincy Park District), lived in the home until his death in 1912. His wife took over his role as president until her death in 1929.

The Friends of the Lorenzo Bull House also made an $18,000 check presentation to the Park Board during Wednesday’s meeting.

“I just wanted to remind everybody that not only does this property hold historic value for its architecture and for its Bull family history, but also for the Parker family history and their connection to this organization as the founding members,” said Michele Khoury with the Friends of the Bull House, which raises funds and gathers members to help enhance and restore the property for continued use.

“Here we are, 143 years later, and we can thank them for the fact that we have all of these beautiful parks.”

Commissioners also:

  • Voted to spend $6,900 from corporate reserves for the design and engineering for the Villa Kathrine walkway and scenic overlook.
  • Heard details of a financial audit by certified public accountant Danielle Fleer, who said the audit was completed with an unqualified opinion and with no deficiencies.
  • Learned construction of an ADA-compliant restroom on the 22nd hole at Westview Golf Course was completed.
  • Learned construction of a parking lot at Lincoln Park was nearly complete, with only striping remaining to be completed.
  • Learned the daily average number of swimmers at Indian Mounds Pool is 204, an increase of 22 from the same time last year. The total numbers of swimmers this summer is up by more than 1,400. 
  • Learned the program stage/shade structure at Bob Bangert Park will have a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. July 28.

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