Jack Wilson, Metro Parks Tacoma’s executive director for 16 years, announced this week that he intends to retire by September.
“I have decided, after 43 years in the parks and recreation profession, to graduate to the next phase of my life,” Wilson told the district’s Board of Commissioners in a memo Monday.
Wilson, 65, came to Metro Parks Tacoma in August 1999 from the Cincinnati Parks Department, inheriting an agency with a $2 million budget deficit, according to The News Tribune archives.
“I recognized from the board the need for somebody to really take on these challenges,” Wilson said before he took over in Tacoma. “I really thrive best under those circumstances.”
A year after Wilson started, voters passed a sales tax to close Metro Parks’ shortfall. Voters also passed bond measures in 2005 and 2014 that expanded community parks, built the STAR Community Center in South Tacoma and funded improvements at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
“I’ve been both humbled and inspired to work in a community that had the foresight to establish a special park district, which ensured that high quality parks and open space would be here for their children and generations to come,” Wilson said in a news release.
Before working as director of Cincinnati parks for 11 years, Wilson served in park leadership roles in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Salem, Ohio; and Frederick County, Maryland.
The park board expects to decide soon how it will choose Wilson’s replacement, Metro Parks said Tuesday.