Tommy Lynch, interim director of Metro Parks and Recreation for nearly two years, is now the department’s permanent leader.
The parks board Tuesday unanimously voted to name Lynch full-time parks director, handing him security for a job he assumed on an interim basis amid controversy that spilled from a budget overage overseen by a predecessor in late 2009. Though the board also considered one of Lynch’s assistants for the job, the vote was never in doubt. Members wrapped up deliberation in just a few minutes. His promotion was effective immediately.
“I can’t think of anyone else who is more appropriate for that position,” board member James Lawson said.
Lynch, a parks department employee since 1971 and brother of Metro Public Works Director Billy Lynch, began his work as interim parks director on Jan. 1, 2010, after being appointed during a financial crisis within the department. His predecessor, Roy Wilson, had retired the previous November after taking heat for his department’s alleged $700,000 budget overshoot.
“I hope I continue to represent the department in a favorable fashion,” Lynch said.
Lynch’s two years as interim director were challenging, he said, referring to the fiscal situation, adding that parks officials still “struggle to make ends” meet and provide citizens services they expect.
“That first year we had to make budget cuts to get ready for the fiscal year budget within a matter of six weeks,” Lynch recalled. “And then six weeks later, we get hit with the [May 2010] flood. So, you can talk about baptism by water or baptism by fire.”
Following the board’s vote, Lynch mentioned several initiatives on his department’s plate. A new McCabe Community Center recently opened in Sylvan Park. There are also ongoing discussions about adding a new community center in southeast Davidson County.
Mayor Karl Dean earlier this year kicked off Metro’s open space plan, with hopes of persevering thousands of acres of land that could otherwise be developed.
As part of that plan, the board Tuesday approved the $2.8 million acquisition of the 181-acre Ravenwood Country Club in Hermitage, with plans to add its acreage to the existing Stones River Greenway. Under the plan –– still pending Metro Council approval –– the parks department wouldn’t continue operations of the club’s golf course, but would use its swimming pool and tennis facilities.
Under the umbrella of the open space plan, Metro recently paid $1.2 million to add the 132-acre Cornelia Fort Airpark to East Nashville’s Shelby Park.
“The open space plans calls for the addition of 3,000 acres within the first five years, and that just got started last year,” Lynch said.