WSPD Staff


 Walter Knake, Executive Director

Walt has enjoyed successful roles in marketing, sales, distribution and strategic planning as well as leading/implementing business start-ups.  Before accepting the Executive Director role at Western Springs Park District, he was VP Sales at CRE Cloud Solutions a software company for commercial real estate. Previously Walt was VP Fleet Development at NGV Repower Solutions providing CNG conversion solutions to the transportation industry in North America.  He has provided consulting services at Fountainhead Development and deployed feasibility, business development and strategic planning for environmental energy, traditional oil and gas sectors and international business development in Eastern Europe and Middle-Latin America.  Walt’s leadership roles include; CEO for Caribbean Petroleum Corporation in Puerto Rico, Director of Business Development at Green Mountain Energy in Austin, CEO for Amoxxo Convenience Retail in Mexico City and General Manager for Inserv West an environmental company in the Chicago area.  His experience includes a distinguished 33 year career with BP/Amoco. A resident of Western Springs for 16 years, Walt also served as President, Park Board Commissioner for 2 terms. He has also served as Illinois Solar Energy Association Board Vice President for 3 years.

708-246-4225 x 12.


 Dennis Conway, Superintendent of Parks

Dennis has been our Park District foreman since 2002.  He is a resident of Westchester for 35 years and enjoys Football, Baseball and outdoor activities. Dennis is supervisor to our two full time groundsmen.  He is superintendent over all the day to day upkeep of our twelve parks.  He works with our Executive Director and the various vendors to make the Western Springs Parks beautiful. 708-246-4225 x 11.


 Barb Kartzmark, Manager of Community Relationships and Events

Barb started working for the Park District in January 2015. She is a resident of La Grange Park, married, mother of 5 and grandmother of 1.   She enjoys volunteering at her church, her children’s schools, her library and her children's sports groups.  Barb was brought on in 2015 to be the Program Coordinator for all activities going on at the Park District and is currently the of Manager of Community Relationships and Events. 708-246-4225 x 10.

 Bill Raftery, Foreman

Bill joined the Park District in March of 2007.  He is a lifelong resident of the area and currently lives in Indian Head Park. In his off time he enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as getting outdoors to the pool in summertime with his wife or working outside by his parents house.  Bill is one our three full time employees dedicated to maintaining and improving the Park Districts ninety plus acres, spread over twelve parks.  Additionally he holds several licenses with the Illinois Department of Agriculture related to turf and grounds upkeep. 708-246-4225.

 Nick Poper, Groundsman 1

Nick Poper joined the Park District Staff in March of 2022. Nick grew up and resides in Westchester. In his free time he likes to spend time with family,  travel, swim, and play sports with friends. His biggest interests are Football, Video Games, and going to the movies. Nick is one of three full time employees at the Park District who is dedicated to keeping the parks and sports fields in Western Springs looking beautiful. Nick has his pesticide license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and plans to accrue other licenses to make sure he can do his part in maintaining the 90+ acres of parkland.