UPDATED | Johnson leaving MetroParks; Vindy request for information denied

Johnson quits MetroParks; Vindy request for information denied

Executive Director Clarke Johnson is leaving the Mill Creek MetroParks -- saying, "There's nothing bad about this."

Johnson said after finishing the MetroParks' Master Plan it was decided that the board was ready to move in a new direction, and at that point Johnson decided it's the right time to retire. He said the plan will call for changes at various levels, including the administration.

"I think they need to move into some other directions. ... The master plan is calling for some reorganizations and changes," he said. "I know they're going to be meeting Tuesday to figure out what kind of transition they want to make."

Stating in a letter that the Mill Creek MetroParks strategic/master planning process is completed and is just waiting board approval, Johnson said: “I am going to take advantage of this evolution and these changes to “re-retire.” He had just been hired the end of 2010.

“As most of you are aware I retired from the Wisconsin State Park Service and am collecting my pension. I am going to return to Wisconsin to be with my family, to go to football games, as my son is a high school coach, to hunt (pheasant season opens soon), to fish, to sail and to walk in the Wisconsin forests with my wife and enjoy the autumn colors.

“I therefore have submitted my notice to retire. My last day in office will be Sept. 27th.”

Johnson’s letter comes on the heels of a Freedom of Information Act request by The Vindicator, last week, seeking any complaints filed against Johnson; and any formal reprimand of him.

The board’s law firm, Manchester, Bennett, Powers & Ullman, denied the request, stating the parks board has no such records, and any such records would be confidential between the MetroParks and its legal counsel.

Johnson said he couldn't comment on The Vindicator's records request or alleged complaints filed against him.

"I would refer you to [Atty.] Tim Jacob. I'm really not in a position to comment on that," he said. "I will say it has nothing to do with me taking my retirement. It's a pile of things. There's nothing bad about this."

Johnson, a Columbus native, has more than 30 years of experience in park districts in Wisconsin, Illinois, California and Missouri.

Jay Macejko, park board president at the time of Johnson's hiring, said Johnson's annual salary would be $87,500 plus benefits and four weeks' vacation time.

Johnson was hired to replace Dave Imbrogno, who was making $90,300 when he resigned from the MetroParks in mid-2009.

This is a developing story.

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