Parks update // Superintendent interviews set

Superintendent interviews set for Oct. 6

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will interview four finalists for its open superintendent job Oct. 6, starting at 5:10 p.m. at its administrative offices, 2117 W. River Road. The interviews are open to the public.

More than 20 people applied for the top parks job and the board originally narrowed the field to five. One of the finalists took a job elsewhere and another was dismissed after a background check. Three were announced Sept. 15 and another candidate applied late and was added to the roster Sept. 28.  

The newest finalist is Jayne Miller, who was most recently the director and chief executive officer for the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority in Michigan.  

She faces House Speaker and former DFL gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher, as well as Steve Rymer, director of recreation and community services in Morgan Hill, Calif., and Stanley Motley, director of parks and recreation in Fulton County, Ga.

The board encouraged non-traditional candidates to apply and Kelliher, who lost the primary election to Mark Dayton Aug. 10, is no doubt one of those. Her resume touts her leadership skills, legislative accomplishments and fundraising efforts, but it doesn’t include experience in park management. Kelliher, who lives in Bryn Mawr, did not return phone calls for comment, but released a statement about her decision that said she was glad to be a finalist and looking forward to the next steps.

“Creating and maintaining unique recreational spaces in one of the Midwest’s premiere parks settings is an exciting opportunity to serve our community,” she said.  

Motley has overseen parks in Fulton County since 2009 and also directed the system from 1995–2000, according to his resume. He has also run park systems in Oak Brook, Ill., Hillsborough County, Fla., and Westchester County, New York.  

Rymer took on his current position in 2006, after six years as parks and recreation director in the Twin Cities suburb of New Brighton.   

Miller has worked in various park management positions since the early 1980s, mostly in Michigan, according to her resume. In her most resent position, she oversaw a five-county regional park system spanning 25,000 acres.

But she quit that job abruptly after six months, according to press reports. Her resignation came after an administrative board reacted negatively to her presentation of a long-term plan for the sytem, the report said.

“I’m pleased we have four strong finalists for superintendent,” said Park Board President John Erwin in a prepared statement. “We are fortunate to have excellent candidates that would bring unique skills and talents to the Park Board.”

Each candidate will be interviewed individually and asked the same questions. The first interview will begin at 5:10 p.m. and the last is scheduled to start at 8:40 p.m. The interviews will be televised on channel 79.

The Park Board plans to make a hiring decision by its Oct. 13 meeting. Interim Superintendent David Fisher’s contract expires at the end of October.

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Thousands of park professionals to descend on Minneapolis

Minneapolis will host roughly 4,500 park professionals from across the country Oct. 26–29 during the National Recreation and Park Association’s annual congress.

The visit will include numerous lectures, informational sessions and tours of Minneapolis parks and facilities.

“We will become a learning laboratory for a week’s time period,” said Jennifer Ringold, the Park Board’s manager of public engagement and citywide planning. “It’s also a great time for us to learn from them.”

The development of a new nature-theme playground in the North loop neighborhood is the official “Leave it Better” service project of the congress. Visitors will help to install some of the playground’s equipment and hopefully take some of the ideas back to their communities.

“We’re really trying to knock it out of the ballpark, to be honest,” Ringold said. “In some communities, they just do something much smaller, like tree plantings or putting down woodchips. We’re really looking at this as an opportunity to showcase a nature play theme in an urban setting and historic interpretation, as well as bringing a new facility to a community that didn’t previously have one.”

Another highlight will be a 5-kilometer run that starts at Lake Harriet on Oct. 28 at 8 a.m.   

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Wirth house tours coming up

The Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society will offer free public tours of the historic Theodore Wirth home from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 9–10.

Wirth served as superintendent of Minneapolis parks from 1906–1935 and was responsible for the design and development of the system. His former home is located at 3954 Bryant Ave. S. in Lyndale Farmstead Park.

For more information on the tours, call 925-4194 or 922-1222.  

For more Park Board updates, visit southwestjournal.com.