A “National Search” means someone isn’t doing their job

When Marvin Olinsky retired, his deputy- Charlie Shoemaker took over Five Rivers MetroParks. When Charlie Shoemaker retired, we’re hearing that the organization is doing a national search.

The Dayton Daily News weighs in with its typical “Let the community in” BS- of course, they don’t let the community sit in when they pick their endorsements for office (and get pissed when I publish a podcast of the actual interview)- and they talk about regionalism- but when push comes to shove- they endorse the same old BS.

Here is a snippet from Ellen Belcher’s editorial:

Mr. Shoemaker’s successor has to have thoughts on all these issues and more. And the park district’s three commissioners need to make sure that the public hears the applicants’ pitches. Specifically, the commissioners need to create a committee of stakeholders to help vet candidates. And there need to be opportunities for the public to put questions to the finalists.

via Vet Metro Parks’ new chief publicly | A Matter of Opinion.

Now, let’s see- the board is three people, Irv Bieser, Alan Pippenger and Karen Davis. All three were picked from the community- not from a “National Search.”

For the last four years- the Deputy Director Carrie Scarff has been working as the second in command. If she’s not prepared to step into Charlie’s shoes, why is she still the deputy director?

There are other superstars in this organization, including Nate Arnett- the director of Adventure Central. Surely- someone inside this large and diverse organization is capable of leadership? If not, we should be replacing the board first.

There are very few regional park systems as diverse in programming as Five Rivers Metroparks. Anyone stepping in from out of town would face a steep learning curve. Then there is also the local politics- remember what happened to Bill Estabrook- and how fast did Valerie Lemmie run out of town once her sugar daddy’s days were over? National searches bring opportunists and carpetbaggers- and a steep learning curve. One estimate from someone connected to the organization who is well respected said five years. Can we really afford that?

Five Rivers Metroparks has grown with locally grown talent, into one of the ONLY regional cooperation success stories. Listening to the Dayton Daily News editorial board- or wasting time and money on a national search would be a step backward as well as a slap in the face to the people who have worked hard to grow MetroParks into the success it is.

When can we, the community, vote on the qualifications of Ellen Belcher and the rest of the Editorial Board? Remember, these are the people who endorsed Rhine McLin and Joe Roberts. And, when they’ve hired people after a national search- what happened? Eddie Roth, Leigh Allan, hello? Hypocrites.

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AbnerBradJeff Dziwulskimgrtruddick Recent comment authors
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David, the reason one holds open, competitive applications and advertises nationally for a position is to keep open the possibility that somewhere out there might be an applicant who will impress more than any in-house candidates.  Why would you want to reject that possibility?


The next big thing ? … How about this ?
Phase I.  The State of Ohio… ODNR is bleeding red ink badly.  They have a 2100 acre state park in Montgomery County that will NEVER be developed ….. if the State continues to be the steward.  ODNR is slashing their budgets at their key parks, and parks such as Sycamore continue to languish serving a handful of people per year at best.  Turn the damned park over to Five Rivers MetroParks….. make it a truly regional attraction. Facilitate growth in the NW quadrant of Montgomery County.
Phase II.  Sell the land that the Montgomery County Fairgrounds sets on…..to UD, to Miami Valley, to whomever will develop it in a manner which serves Dayton’s revitalization and redevelopment goals. Move the fairgrounds to Sycamore MetroPark …..and build it as a true agricultural based fairground facility….not a venue for carnivals.
( see the emails I just sent you)

Jeff Dziwulski
Jeff Dziwulski

Whatever Five Rivers does is OK by me.  They are quite effective.  Their parks are clean, well-maintained, and trails well-marked (if you are a hiker like me you can tell they do a great job in comparison with other forest preserve districts).   They do aggressive programming, too.   You can see what your tax money goes for with Five Rivers, which is an outstanding park system (Washington Township has an excellent system, to0).  Fiver Rivers is one of the few strong “quality-of-life” selling points this metro area has. 

As for Sycamore, that was never intended to be  a state park.  It was never in ODNR’s plans to put a park there or anywhere in Montgomery County.   The state ended up holding most of this property as part of a deal to liquidated the failed Newfields New Town (one of the Title II new towns, developed by one of the Huber brothers).   From a post at Urban Ohio:

What was proposed was that the property be disposed of three ways.  Winters Bank (which had loanded money to the defunct NCA) and HUD would self off the panhandle property and split the proceeds.  HUD would sell the westermost part of the property to the State of Ohio, which would convert the vacant land to a state park.  HUD would sell the phase I property as three development areas.  So, interesting to see here that the State of Ohio ends up holding part of the bag via its agreement to take some empty land off the hands of the Feds.

The entire story (with graphics) can be found here:



I’m beyond sick and tired of the DDN editorial board.  They royally screwed up with the last Mayoral election, and failed to acknowledge even 1 tiny shred of being wrong.  Gottlieb wrote like 5 fricking editorials after the election was over, squirming around and side-stepping the fact the he was just DEAD WRONG.  They have the pulpit to preach to thousands of Dayton-area residents who unfortunately “take their word for it” in many cases.  And Belcher self-anointing herself to be the resident expert on Public Safety issues and operations just makes me want to vomit.  Breaks my heart that the DDN circulation continues to fall…


I don’t have much to say about whether Five Rivers should look locally or nationally, but as an outsider who interacts with many different people within Five Rivers at multiple locations for my work, I am constantly impressed by the organization and the people within it.  I guess my intuition is to agree that there ought to be someone within the organization that could or should lead it forward.   I am always a little skeptical when organizations look to outsiders to take the reins unless perhaps when that organization is in serious need of a change in direction or has failed leadership.  New leadership tends to shake things up a lot which does not at all seem like what Five Rivers needs.  Quite the opposite.  Five Rivers is to me the best example of an organization that is on the right path and doing as excellent job.  Why would anyone seek change in a situation like this?