By Jordyn Grzelewski
After tonight’s regular Mill Creek MetroParks board meeting, the board will meet for a special session to hash out details of new board-advisory committees slated to form at the start of 2017.
The committee structure, approved in July, was proposed by board member Tom Shipka. The motion created nine standing committees to advise the board on various policy matters.
Though the proposal has been enacted by the board, members will discuss and possibly agree on some amendments tonight.
“I’m hoping as a board we’ll accomplish a better understanding of the committees and how they function,” said board president John Ragan, who was the sole board member to vote against the proposal, citing at the time a need for additional “clarification.”
Ragan said he hopes the work session will allow the board to figure out the number of committees, their roles, their descriptions, to whom they will report, and what kind of background knowledge applicants might need to serve on a particular committee.
As it’s currently written, the motion establishes nine, five-member committees focused on these topics: finance, development, employee relations, wildlife, recreation, nature education, environment, horticulture and volunteers.
The motion describes the role of the committees as advisers to the park board, and stipulates they report to the board at least once a year.
Shipka’s plan also states the committees must comply with the Ohio Open Meetings Act and that the executive director of the park or his/her designee serve each committee as an ex-officio member. The plan also gives the board president authority to appoint committee members, based on recommendations from other board members; and sets three-year, renewable terms for committee members.
That’s the plan as written, but board members have discussed possibily amending it.
At the board’s request, MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young provided his own recommendations on the committee structure.
His version of the plan would have committees report to him, instead of the park board, and would reduce the number of committees from nine to five.
Shipka resists those proposed changes.
“My hope is that the original proposal from July, approved by the board, will be retained. The alternate version proposed by Mr. Young nullifies some of the most important features of the original proposal, so therefore I hope the board does not approve the alternate plan,” he said.
“There’s always room for compromise, but several of the features in the original have to be retained. For instance, the committees are appointed by the board. The committees report to the board. The committees can meet as frequently as they wish. Those are essential,” Shipka said.
What he might agree to, he said, is modifying the number of committees, as long as the committees focused on development, finance, horticulture, wildlife, nature education and recreation remain.
“At least six of them, I think, are really important,” he said.
Young is prepared to implement whatever the board decides, he said.
“It is solely up to the board, and I will support whatever decision they make,” he added.
The board meeting begins at 6 tonight at the MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road.