Gary Madrzykowski, director of the Olander Park System, has resigned his post after the park’s commissioners say they learned he had taken more than $2,500 from park coffers.
Mr. Madrzykowski wrote a two-sentence letter of resignation immediately after Olander Park Commissioner John Zeitler confronted him Aug. 2 about a check Mr. Madrzykowski wrote to himself in the amount of $2,500 from the park system’s bank account.
“After 15 years of wonderful service to us, he did something stupid, and it was inappropriate,” Mr. Zeitler said.
Mr. Zeitler said he was alerted to the issue Aug. 1 by the park system’s bookkeeper, Jennifer Barry.
It was discovered that Mr. Madrzykowski had been taking cash from the park’s cash drawer over the last several weeks. Mr. Zeitler said some of the summer help was aware of the money being taken, however, since it was replaced the next day it went unnoticed by others. When Ms. Barry went to reconcile the books at the end of the month she discovered the receipt and alerted Mr. Zeitler.
Mr. Zeitler said besides the $2,500 check, the amounts taken were as little as $25 or $20, and occurred about six separate times. He said Mr. Madrzykowski did not conceal his actions.
“He always left a note, or an IOU, or took the money in front of people,” Mr. Zeitler said.
He said that the petty cash had been returned, however, when Mr. Madrzykowski was confronted about his actions, the $2,500 was still outstanding but has since been repaid.
Mr. Zeitler said less than $3,000 total was taken.
Attempts to contact Mr. Madrzykowski were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at the 6500 block of Cornwall Street at an apartment that he listed as his residence on two police reports in June. In both reports, he claimed his car had been stolen.
Mr. Madrzykowski could not be reached for comment by telephone.
Although Mr. Zeitler believed the intent to repay the cash was there, there was no justification for taking government money, he said.
“You cannot borrow funds from the park. The minute that someone drives into Olander Park and hands the attendant money it is not the employees' money, it is not the visitors' money, it is the park's money,” he said.
Mr. Madrzykowski was hired as director in 1998. Mr. Zeitler described Mr. Madrzykowski as enthusiastic, and community minded, noting that under his management the park system more than tripled its size.
Olander Park on Sylvania Avenue opened in 1963 with 60 acres of land. With the purchase of Sylvan Prairie Park located on Brint Road in 2006, consisting of 191 acres, and Fossil Park, located on Centennial Road, which is about five acres, the one-destination Olander Park, became a multi-park system in Sylvania.
During his tenure, Mr. Madrzykowski cultivated the park’s community outreach programs, such as the summer concert series, nature walks, and nature discovery programs for children and families, Mr. Zeitler said. Mr. Madrzykowski was also active on the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corporation, an economic development organization.
Mr. Madrzykowski’s annual salary for 2013 was $71,000.
In his administration office Wednesday, Mr. Zeitler was visibly disheartened by the events. He said he was not aware of any financial troubles Mr. Madrzykowski would have had that would prompt him to take the money, and does not believe it happened in the past.
In their conversation on Aug. 2 he did not ask why the money was borrowed, saying it didn’t matter because “you just can’t do it.”
Ms. Barry gave The Blade a one-page document that she said was Mr. Madrzykowski's resignation letter. In it he details his plans to move to Florida, where he has a home, within the year.
Mr. Madrzykowski ended the letter with “See You At The Beach!”
Park officials and friends of Mr. Madrzykowski could not confirm if he had already moved. His mother, Elaine Madrzykowski, said he left for Florida Wednesday.
The commissioners did not release a public statement about Mr. Madrzykowski's resignation.
The three park commissioners, which also includes Gail Abood and Harold McElmurry plan to hold a special meeting in the next week to discuss a replacement, and how to handle the position in the interim. They do not plan to file criminal charges, Mr. Zeitler said.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.