Park Board looks to former superintendent as temporary Miller replacement

Mary Merrill would take the helm of the city’s parks next month

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is in negotiations with Mary Merrill to name the former superintendent as an interim leader of the city’s parks.

Merrill, who served four years as superintendent and one term as a commissioner, would fill the post beginning next month when Superintendent Jayne Miller leaves the organization for a job in Pennsylvania.

Anderson-Mary-M-1999-2003_squareCommissioners approved a resolution Wednesday authorizing staff to negotiate a contract beginning Feb. 5 with Merrill, who was the first woman and first person of color to serve as superintendent. In 2009, Merrill became one of three people in the Park Board’s history to earn the title of superintendent emeritus.

At the board’s annual meeting Tuesday President Brad Bourn (District 6) described Merrill as one of the strongest advocates for Minneapolis youth thanks to her work implementing programs like Team Teamworks, Phat Summer and the Youthline Outreach Mentorship Program.

“Mary is uniquely qualified to serve as interim superintendent while the Board of Commissioners conducts a search for the next superintendent of our beloved park system,” he said.

Merrill would serve until the end of October when Miller’s contract was set to expire. Miller is resigning effective Feb. 4 to take a position as CEO of the non-profit Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Merrill’s history with the Park Board goes back to the 1970s when she started as the recreation director at Powderhorn Park. She would eventually work her way up to superintendent in 1999 and serve until 2003. Merrill served a term as a citywide commissioner between 2006 and 2009, including two years as vice president.