By Mary Hladky
When Art Koski asked that an agreement to keep him working as a consultant for the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District be pulled from the Nov. 18 commission agenda, it appeared he had severed ties with the district for good.
District chair Susan Vogelgesang and Commissoner Robert Rollins praised Koski for his 40 years of service when interviewed after the meeting.
Vogelgesang said she “cried my eyes out” over his departure. “I rely on him an awful lot on history and guidance. … It just makes me sad. I had a very good relationship with him.”
“I feel I have lost a part of my soul with Art leaving the district,” Rollins said. “His vision helped direct the district to the facilities we do have. He provided great counsel to us over the years.”
But when contacted, Koski said he is not necessarily gone yet. The agreement was pulled from the agenda at his request “because I had not made up my mind,” he said.
Koski said he is still in the process of deciding and “I will make the announcement in the proper forum.”
Told of Koski’s comments, Vogelgesang said that when he asked to take the matter off the agenda, she had thought he no longer wanted a role with the district.
If Koski wanted to work as a consultant and outlined the scope of his duties that district commissioners would accept, “I would welcome him to stay on,” she said.
The former district executive director’s consultant contract to be project manager and construction manager of the Boca National golf course ended on Nov. 1. He was paid $10,000 a month, the same amount he earned as executive director.
But the golf course is in limbo as the city and district disagree on how the project should proceed. Most recently, the city has taken over the project and intends to request proposals from golf course architects in the hopes of getting a better price or design.
The district was negotiating a new contract with Koski when he seemingly pulled the plug.
Rollins said Koski had proposed being compensated at an hourly rate of $275 with a $7,500 retainer.
Koski likely would return to the district if he had the full support of commissioners, he said.
But district Vice Chair Erin Wright has said she doesn’t feel comfortable working with Koski as a consultant and has questioned his invoices.
Commissioner Steven Engel said he had “some issues” with what Koski had proposed.
He wanted to make sure Koski did not have any direct dealings with the city because of friction between him and city officials. Engel wanted Koski to act only with the express authorization of the board through Executive Director Briann Harms. Engel also had concerns about Koski’s proposed hourly rate.
Koski started working for the district in 1978. He shed his role as legal counsel in June 2018 and as executive director in January.
He was paid $150,000 a year as the district’s lawyer. For a time, he was lawyer, executive director and construction administrator for the De Hoernle Park sports fields, making $330,000 a year.