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Quick Story: Cummings Is New Alderman; Flap Over Downtown Apartments

Investment manager Don Cummings fills the vacancy of Bob Piper. Meanwhile, the city votes to approve a downtown townhouse project that everyone in the room said should have been apartments.

If you ask Don Cummings how he got the political bug, he'll smile and tell you.

"I think I complained too much," he said following Tuesday night's raucous City Council and Committee of the Whole meeting.

Cummings was appointed Geneva's next 2nd Ward alderman, filling a portion of Bob Piper's term. because he had moved out of the 2nd Ward.

Cummings, 48, is the founder of , an investment management firm in Geneva. He is a member of the , sat for more than a decade on the Board, and is a past board member of DayOne Network and the Geneva Park District Foundation. He is member of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, the International Cultural Exchange Committee, and the Center for Business Education, Innovation and Development.

He resigned his postion on the Library Board in order to accept the 2nd Ward aldermanic post through April 2013, when there will be an election to fill the balance of Piper's term. 

Cummings got roped into the Library Board gig while on a train ride home, after he complained to Scott Fintzen, a former library trustee and Geneva alderman, who encouraged Cummings to be part of the solution. Apparently, it took.

Cummings is a resident of Eagle Brook. He's 48 years old, has a bachelor's degree in journalism (yes!) from the University of Wisconsin, and he's been a Geneva resident for more than 20 years.

He said he's a "big runner and supporter of pedestrian rights," and he likes what Geneva has done with the pedestrian right of way on Third Street.

Cummings and his wife, Jeanne, have three children: Declan, 20, Delaney, 19, and Brynn, 17, a senior at Geneva High School.

In watching the Committee of the Whole, then sitting in on the full City Council vote Tuesday night, Cummings got a chance to see the City Council deal with one controversial issue.

Patch will provide a more-detailed story Wednesday, but the QuickStory is that Shodeen Family Property Company lambasted the city staff, saying that the process of approval for a proposed 17-unit apartment was so difficult and costly that Shodeen had no choice but to withdraw.

Instead, Sho-Deen Inc. President David Patzelt asked for approval for a five-unit townhouse project on a parcel between South Street and the city parking garage just east of Second Street. The townhouses are an allowable use in that block and do not require a variance or Plan Commission public hearing.

Patzelt called the city's work-in-progress Master Plan "a farce," because no builder would be able to pass muster to build apartments—a coveted component of downtown planning because they bring foot traffic and vitality.

City staff members, in turn, noted that Shodeen had refused on a number of occasions to submit plans or follow prescribed practices. At one point, City Administrator Mary McKittrick said to Patzelt, "Shame on you for trying to pit the council against the staff."

The upshot is that the motion to approve the townhome plan was approved by the Committeee of the Whole and the City Council. A motion to postpone the vote until Jan. 17 was rejected.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said the council vote was postponed until Jan. 17.

Mike Donahue January 04, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Congratulations to Don. His knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset to the City. I know Don is more interested in the service than he is in the politics. He exemplifies the Rotary credo, "service above self," which is an example that all elected officials should follow.
Bob McQuillan January 04, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Don will be a great voice for the all the residents of Geneva, especially the 2nd Ward. Congratulation to Don and his family.

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