Gateway: News

Lee to leave role as executive director of PenMet Parks in May

From left, Kurt Grimmer, Steve Nixon, Terry Lee and Eric Guenther of PenMet Parks were on hand in February 2017 at Sehmel Homestead Park to celebrate the new turf infields that were recently completed. Lee has announced he is retiring in May.
From left, Kurt Grimmer, Steve Nixon, Terry Lee and Eric Guenther of PenMet Parks were on hand in February 2017 at Sehmel Homestead Park to celebrate the new turf infields that were recently completed. Lee has announced he is retiring in May. Staff file, 2017

After agreeing to serve as executive director for a year for the PenMet Parks District seven years ago, Terry Lee wasn’t necessarily looking at a long-term plan.

“I thought at the time I’d do it for a year and see how it goes,” Lee said.

But he was a stellar fit due to his familiarly with Pierce County, Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula — and the many relationships he built during his two stints as a Pierce County Councilman serving this area. Lee flourished in the position despite not having a background in parks and recreation.

“I think I have accomplished what (the parks board) hired me for,” said Lee, who has college degrees in chemistry and zoology and worked for the federal government for 29 years.

Lee’s tenure as executive director will come to an end May 30, as he opted to sign a five-month contract when his expired in December in order to stay around long enough to assist with hiring a replacement.

T.Lee
Terry Lee LEE GILES III Staff file

The district will probably hire a firm to conduct a search for the next executive director, parks board member Todd Iverson said.

A strong love for the community and an insistence that a strong parks district is a huge component to quality of life in the region kept the 71-year-old Lee working 47- to 50-hour weeks throughout his tenure. But now the 44-year resident wants to dial things back and spend some time with his children and his three granddaughters.

But don’t expect Lee to dial things back before May. His list of to-do projects include:

▪ Finish working with Fox Island residents to develop an action plan for the district’s use of the DeMolay property

▪ Work with the Peninsula School District to get 100 acres at the Rotary Bark Park transferred to PenMet

▪ Partner with the city of Gig Harbor, the Downtown Waterfront Alliance and Rotary to complete the connector trail between the Cushman Trail and Harborview Drive

▪ Build on plans for serving special needs communities with more recreation opportunities

▪ Continue to work with Pierce County on issues such as SEPA and transportation impacts as the district begins to design and develop Peninsula Gardens

While he will no longer be in an official capacity with the park district, Lee says people can still expect to see him around town and at the weekly Chamber Forum at Cottesmore of Life in Gig Harbor.

“I’m just going to have a blank slate and help out where I can,” Lee said.

Tyler Hemstreet: 253-358-4150, @gateway_tyler

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