Outspoken Mill Creek MetroParks Commissioner asks not to be reappointed

Shipka's term ends on December 31, but he will not seek another three-year term

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Mill Creek MetroParks Commissioner Tom Shipka is asking not to be reappointed to the Park Board.

Shipka’s term ends on December 31, but he will not seek another three-year term.

Within the last year, there has been some turnover and controversy within the Mill Creek MetroParks.

Shipka said he wanted to serve on the board to “reform” it. He saw problems with how the parks were moving forward, especially after a goose killing campaign in 2014 and a mass layoff in 2016.

During his tenure, Shipka made several recommendations on how to change how the park is run. Nearly all of them were adopted.

“I feel, in large part, that I have fulfilled my mission. My agenda is done,” Shipka told WYTV on Tuesday.

In February of 2016, several long-time park employees were laid off as part of Mill Creek’s reorganization plan. The layoffs led to protests of park management and demands from community members that Executive Director Aaron Young be fired.

Shipka was selected in June — as well as another commissioner — to serve on the board.

He has been an outspoken member of the group, criticizing the condition of the Volney Rogers Field.

In a letter to Judge Robert Rusu, Jr., Shipka detailed changes made by the Board of Commissioners that sought to diminish community backlash against the group, following the layoffs. Among the changes was a move to use committees to increase public engagement.

Shipka said although he has seen positive changes during his term, more changes are needed.

In his letter, Shipka detailed challenges with fundraising and reenergizing the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation, which he said has had “limited success in fulfilling its purpose.”

“Although there have been disagreements and conflicts within and among the groups associated with the MetroParks, I am hopeful about the future of the MetroParks,” Shipka wrote. “I base this hope on the fact that, despite the differences and the conflicts, all of us share a strong bond – a deep and sincere commitment to preserving and enhancing the legacy of Volney Rogers.”

Among other recent resignations, Commissioner John Ragan, who served as commissioner for seven years, also announced in November that he is not seeking reappointment.

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