The top employee at Metro Parks Tacoma is taking an extended leave of absence for medical reasons.
Jack Wilson, executive director of Metro Parks, has been on leave since July 1. He sent an email to employees June 26 announcing he was taking time off to “address and focus on a personal health issue.”
“I remain very appreciative and proud of my association with Metro Parks Tacoma and wish to again acknowledge and thank all of you for the exceptional service you provide this community,” Wilson wrote.
“I hope you have a great summer and I look forward to returning as soon as I can.”
While Wilson is gone, Steve Knauer is serving as acting executive director. Knauer is the agency’s director of parks and natural resources, and oversees park operations.
Metro Parks has not publicly announced the staffing change, but provided The News Tribune with a copy of Wilson’s June email after the newspaper inquired about Wilson’s prolonged absence.
Knauer has filled in for Wilson in the past while Wilson was on vacation, said Metro Parks spokeswoman Nancy Johnson. Staff are treating Wilson’s current medical absence the same way, she said.
“They definitely feel like it’s just business as usual,” Johnson said. “It’s no different than if he was on a vacation.”
Staff expect Wilson to return, but they’re not sure when that will be, said Aaron Pointer, president of the Metro Parks board of commissioners.
“We’re not at the point of thinking of some kind of replacement or anything like that,” Pointer said. “We have total confidence now in the interim that Steve Knauer, who is the acting director, and the staff will perform at a very high level and Metro Parks won’t miss a beat.”
Wilson was Metro Parks’ highest-paid employee in 2012, earning $183,337.
Johnson said Wilson is taking time off using a combination of paid sick leave, administrative leave and vacation days he has accrued over the years.
Wilson has been executive director of Metro Parks Tacoma since 1999. He previously was director of parks in Cincinnati.
Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209