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New director wasn't chosen hastily, Mill Creek board chief says



Published: Sun, September 30, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Elise Franco

efranco@vindy.com

CAnfield

The Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners wasted no time naming a new executive director, but board president Robert Durick said the decision wasn’t a hasty one.

The board appointed Dennis Miller, a 14-year MetroParks employee, executive director Sept. 18. He’ll replace Clarke Johnson, who announced his retirement Sept. 14. Johnson, hired in December 2010, said he’s leaving the park to return to his wife in Wisconsin.

The board’s decision and Miller’s qualifications were called into question by some park supporters, but Miller said he’s ready and willing to prove himself worthy of the position.

“It appears that this was a hasty decision, but it wasn’t. I was approached by the board about a year ago,” Miller said. “This park belongs to the citizens, and I truly understand the responsibility instilled in this position.”

Durick said the commissioners began discussing the job with Miller, the former golf director, about nine months ago when Johnson expressed his need to leave once the park’s master plan was finished.

The board decided about a month ago to appoint Miller to Johnson’s position, Durick said.

During the search for Johnson, which Durick called extremely “voluminous,” he and other board members looked to hire someone from within the MetroParks, but they found that none met their qualifications. This time, however, was different, he said.

“We have a guy now who has been in the MetroParks system for something like 15 years, ready to step in,” Durick said. “He knows the park, is a local guy and gets things done.”

Miller will be the fourth permanent executive director since 2002 and says his focus is to “bring stability back to the park.”

He said his previous position wasn’t “just golf director”; under that title he was responsible for managing the golf course, the Wick Recreation Area and the Judge Morley Pavilion — a grouping of the park’s biggest revenue generators with a total operating budget of about $1.7 million. “I am involved with planning and fundraising and project management. I am a business manager,” he said. “I know what we need to concentrate on to improve efficiencies and management, and I realize the needs of the MetroParks.”

Durick said he hopes that when the board approves the long-awaited master plan at its Oct. 9 meeting, everyone will support it and Miller.

“When this master plan in implemented the board will be behind it and Dennis 100 percent,” Durick said. “All the department heads and their employees will all support it, too.”

To earn that same support from the public, Miller said he intends to promote greater transparency from the board, especially on hot-button issues such as the potential for hydraulic fracturing on park lands.

“I do completely understand the concerns that the guardians of Mill Creek have,” he said. “We’re going to be very transparent and open with any decision that myself or the board has.”

He said the board is inviting the public to two forums in October to discuss the issue, something board members have promised they’d do. The times and dates will be announced in the next few weeks.

“Even if there isn’t anything to report, we’re going to say that. We need to be more proactive because it is such a hot topic right now,” Miller said.


Comments

1AtownAugie(697 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

The board's failure is summarized in the fifth paragraph of Ms Franco's article: they had at least nine months to conduct a search for a new director. The board looked high and low for *the* best person to be in charge of our park -- and our tax dollars. The board should have known that looking high and low does not mean limiting the search to every hill and valley in Mill Creek Park.

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2palefoot(35 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

I have always seen promoting from within a company as a good decision, no matter the business. I'd like to see the person running the park be someone not only with a great business sense, but someone who will roll up their sleeves and actually get dirty if thats what it takes and it seems Mr. Miller has proven himself to be that person. Hopefully he and the board can work well together to preserve the history of Mill Creek while moving it into the future.

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3gdog4766(1253 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

The public deserves more input in park matters. The park functions on tax dollars, yet the public has little impact on who they hire or how they spend OUR MONEY!!!!!

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4nojimbo(219 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

Mr. Durick's statements make no logical sense so they should be seen for what they are, BS PR.
He said that in the search for Johnson which was only a couple years ago, "he and other board members looked to hire someone from within the MetroParks, but they found that none met their qualifications." That meant that MILLER, who had been there 12 YEARS, didn't meet their qualifications. Now, hocus pocus, he magically does.

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5palefoot(35 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

gdog4766, the public does have input in park matters, thats what the public board meetings are for. And if you are not happy with the board members, its up to you as a taxpayer to initiate the changes needed.
nojimbo, no hocus pocus, perhaps Miller wasn't interested last time they looked for a director as he was focused on reaching the US Open.

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6Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

"... a great business sense[?]" - - -The park was not intended to be a business!!!!!!!!!!!! It is an area of preservation so that we can appreciate its beauty and nature. The question that needs asking is what would Volney Rogers do if he were here today. It is this man's spirit, dedication, preservation hard work that allowed our gem to exist today. I also believe that the founder of the park would not want fracking in or under Mill Creek park. He wouldn't mow down hardwoods on the golf course either.

And for as far as citizens being welcomed at the so called meetings , I can remember reading about one such meeting not long ago when they weren't .

Meetings must be real not canned where the decisions were made long ago and a dog and pony show is put on. Such meetings define and limit choice options of the public to what "business" wants. Citizen inputs can then be thrown in the trash can without any real consideration. What a real meeting boils down to is the will of the people. This is the foundation of democracy. Anything less is un-American at best. Stop circumventing the Constitution to suit your perceived needs. Let the citizens decide!

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7Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

By the way the will of the people does not mean listen to what the majority is saying and do what you want . It means representing what the PEOPLE want by implementation or doing it. Understand????

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8palefoot(35 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

It takes money and employees to preserve the park, thus it is a business.
So if the public feels their voice isn't being heard, what are they going to do about it besides complain? They are your tax dollars, unite, find a solution and take action.

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