With no specific professional plans after January 1, outgoing made one thing clear about his future during a news conference Tuesday morning at City Hall.
He is not retiring.
With plans to stay in Highland Park and marry Kris Slattery October 22, Limardi said he will remain professionally active in some way. Though he feels he is at the top of his game, he has no plans to manage another municipality.
“I’m as good as I’ve ever been. I have a thought to do something else,” Limardi said. “It won’t be directly in the public service.”
After 34 years in municipal management guiding and taking direction from elected officials, Limardi said it was unlikely he would seek elective office himself. He has great respect for those who do.
“It’s hard for them to put themselves out there to win or lose. To give something 100 percent to get a job and when you lose it can’t be easy,” Limardi said. “Raising so much money is something that does not appeal to me. It’s not in my values.”
Former Mayor Mike Belsky, one of four mayors Limardi served under, considers some of Limardi’s best accomplishments the development of Ft. Sheridan, the building of Renaissance Place and the growth of the Taste of Highland Park.
Limardi placed the five-year effort at Ft. Sheridan at the top of his list. He helped Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Forest negotiate the acquisition of the former military base and turn it into a neighborhood. He lived there for 10 years before moving to the city’s Sherwood Forest area.
“Ft. Sheridan was five years of my life,” Limardi said. “We took a fort and turned it into a community. You don’t get to do that very often.”
In addition to Belsky and current Mayor Nancy Rotering, Limardi served under former Mayors Dan Pierce and Ray Geraci. In that time he saw the city go from divisiveness over the development philosophies of Pierce and Geraci to an era of progressive growth in Belsky’s tenure.
Through it all, Limardi remained focused on professionalism, taking direction from the city's elected officials and turning their wishes into sound policy.
“This form of government (council/manager) is about … taking the vision of elected officials and citizens and in an ethical, efficient and transparent way implementing that vision,” Limardi said. “We have to translate this into action. It’s not always easy.”
Limardi said the city's best moments came as a result of real challenges. More than 12 years ago, members of the Highland Park Police Department were accused of racial profiling.
Pierce presided over a public hearing with the City Council at the height of the incident where Highland Park residents Juanita Jordan, Michael Jordan’s then-wife, and the late, former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson spoke.
“The community was struck at its core. The elected officials handled it well,” Limardi said. “As a people we came out better.”
In his years working as a city manager, Limardi learned when to point the mayor and City Council towards the bigger picture if they appeared overly focused on Highland Park alone. He did this when he gave them reasons at an April meeting not to stifle the . His advice was eventually heeded.
“It’s about being honest and looking at reality,” Limardi said of the incident. “I have to be able to prod the Council when it needs to make the best decision.”
Between now and January 1, Limardi intends to focus on preparing his final budget as Highland Park’s city manager. He will also continue to teach two classes at Northwestern University after he leaves.
After graduating from Marquette University in 1975 with a degree in political science, Limardi earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in 1978. He went to work as an assistant to the village manager in Wilmette that year. He first took a municipality’s helm with Lincolnshire in 1982 before coming to Highland Park in 1993.
One career move Limardi has not ruled out is consulting. “If I can be helpful people to people I will. If I can make a few dollars that’s okay too.”