Montgomery resident Clarence Bark didn’t initially seek out a seat on the village’s Plan Commission.
“It wasn’t my idea,” he said. “In 1979 the mayor came to me and asked if I’d serve so I said, ‘Well, I’ll help you out.’ I thought it would just be a short-term thing.”
Now 30 years later, Bark, who holds the record as longest-serving member of the plan commission, is hanging up his hat.
“Like anything, you come to a point where you decide you have to make a change,” he said. “Like I told the mayor when I turned in my resignation, ‘It’s time for some younger people to come in.’ I see those people in Congress that stay and stay and I wish they’d put term limitations because younger ideas don’t get in.”
In his tenure, Bark enjoyed watching Montgomery grow, and seeing the new Village Hall come to fruition.
“Montgomery has expanded quite a bit,” he said. “It’s one of those things. You can’t stop progress and that’s what’s going on in this world.”
As for the village hall on River Street, which was finished in 2008, Bark said it had long been a topic of discussion.
"We had a very small hall before and decided to build a hall that would last for many years," he said.
When Bark and his wife, Jeanette, first built their home in the area in the late 1950s, it was on a stretch of land between Aurora and Montgomery.
"My wife spotted a lot and said, 'If I ever have a home, this is where I'd like to have it,'" he said. "One day we were driving down (Route) 25 and a sign on a tree said the lot was for sale. So we got the telephone number and went and made a deal and bought the land and started building the home."
The parcel was soon annexed into Montgomery, solidifying them as residents.
Plan Commissioner Jason Bragg, who has worked alongside Bark for nine years, calls him a “wealth of knowledge that will be sorely missed.”
“He’s been instrumental in just about every piece of commercial property that has come in over the last three decades,” Bragg said. “Whenever we needed some advice, we can always turn to him. He has sound judgement and gave a good history of what past boards had done or what actions had taken place.”
Bragg said Bark would often help new plan commission members learn the ropes.
“You just don’t have that any longer,” he said. “This is going to be a great loss for not only the plan commission but the entire village. He’s had his hand on just about everything.”
The Village Board will salute Bark and celebrate his time on the commission at its next meeting, on Monday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m.