Metroparks board establishes seven advisory committees with a maximum of seven members each


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

CANFIELD

After approving a structure that sets up new board advisory committees, the Mill Creek MetroParks board is tasked with finalizing the 49 people who will serve on those committees.

At a special meeting Monday night that was called to set the committee structure and review applicants, the five-member board unanimously approved a motion that establishes seven committees with a maximum of seven members each. Those committees will advise the board on finance, development, wildlife, nature education, environment, horticulture and community engagement.

The board opinion on how best to go about selecting committee members was not unanimous. The board entered executive session after OK’ing a motion, approved 4-1 with board President John Ragan opposed, that stipulated each board member submit four recommendations for each committee, with one designated as their top pick.

The motion further mandated that Ragan appoint the other board members’ top picks and limit the remaining appointments to the other recommended candidates.

The board later came out of executive session and amended the procedure, however, to give Ragan more of a say in the selection process. The amended motion, which was approved 4-1 with board member Tom Shipka casting the dissenting vote, allows Ragan to fill spots from the entire pool of approximately 90 candidates, rather than sticking only to his colleagues’ recommendations. He still must appoint their top picks for each committee.

“We had agreed on the procedure as far back as July, and we confirmed the basic procedure in a motion prior to the executive session. I didn’t see any significant reason to depart from the plan that was in place,” said Shipka. “But let’s put this in perspective: For the first time we’ve got standing committees, mainly members of the community, some of whom have been vocal critics [of park leaders], and I think in the long run this will serve the community well.”

Board member Lee Frey suggested that the board host a committee orientation session next month after advisory committee members have been notified of their selection.

“This is a growing thing. It has growing pains,” said Frey. “We need to have some structure.”

The new committee structure arose from a motion brought to the board in July by Shipka. He originally proposed creation of nine five-member committees. At the suggestion of board member Germaine Bennett, the board opted to eliminate a proposed employee relations committee, combine committees focused on volunteers and recreation into a single community engagement committee, and to increase the number of people permitted on each committee.

All in all, Shipka said he is satisfied with how the committee structure has come together.

“I think in principle the backbone of my proposal has survived,” he said. “The important point is the committees are in place, or soon will be. The recommending board members got to select the one person they felt was particularly well-qualified to serve on each of the committees. That is really essential, in my judgment, to the integrity of this process.”

The board will formally approve the final committee appointments at a later date. The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens.

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