By Sean Barron
The Mill Creek MetroParks board of commissioners has appointed a new executive director, effective Sept. 28.
During a special meeting Tuesday, the board hired Dennis Miller to replace Clarke Johnson, who began as executive director in December 2010 and is stepping down before returning to the Milwaukee area to be with family.
Most recently, Miller, who has been with the park about 14 years, served as its golf director.
His annual salary will be $87,500, noted Bob Durick, board chairman.
Several people who attended the session were angry at what they perceived as an absence of transparency in the hiring, saying that the move lacked public input and was done hastily.
Among those was Tim Raridon of Youngstown, a co-founder of Guardians of Mill Creek Park, a group that’s concerned about possible oil and gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing in the park.
Raridon and others complained that commissioners refused to hear their comments regarding the new hire, as well as the need for more information about Miller’s background and qualifications for the position.
“It’s not a conservative issue; it’s not a liberal issue. It’s an issue of democracy,” Raridon said, regarding the public’s right to have a greater say about the park’s decision-making process.
A few people expressed their desire to work with commissioners, but asked for greater transparency.
Durick said that public comments will be welcome during the board’s next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Mill Creek MetroParks’ Experimental Farm on state Route 46 in Canfield.