MetroParks of Butler County Introduces New Executive Director, Announces Retirement of Current Executive Director
Hamilton OH- The Board of Park Commissioners of MetroParks of Butler County has announced the appointment of MetroParks’ new Executive Director, Jackie O’Connell. O’Connell’s hiring follows the planned departure of current Executive Director Jonathan Granville, who will retire at the end of the year. O’Connell’s first day with MetroParks was November 29.
O’Connell comes to MetroParks with over 30 years of parks and recreation experience with park districts and recreational organizations in Montgomery, Hamilton and Warren counties. Previously, O’Connell served in leadership roles with both city and county-wide park systems, and most recently held the position of Public Services Director at Colerain Township. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, and as a delegate of Hamilton County’s Commission on Women and Girls.
“MetroParks of Butler County has a wonderful foundation and legacy, and I am excited to be a steward of this park district and a resource for the community.” said O’Connell. “Parks are part of the fabric of Butler County. The MetroParks serve as a place for people and organizations to engage with each other, and the parks have such a positive impact on people’s quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shown us how important parks are to communities. People are seeking accessible outdoor spaces in record numbers, and want to re-engage with the natural world. With increased visitation, MetroParks has the opportunity now to do more for the community than ever before. I am looking forward to both forming new and strengthening old relationships with county residents and organizations.”
MetroParks’ current Executive Director, Jonathan Granville, will retire on December 31, 2021. Granville has served as MetroParks Executive Director since the fall of 2007. Under Granville’s leadership, MetroParks passed its first county-wide tax levy in 2010, which secured consistent funding for the park district. “In 2010, the citizens of Butler County decided for the first time in the district’s then 45-year history to fund the park system, so that everyone in Butler County could access quality greenspace and recreational opportunities in their community for years to come.” said Granville.
Granville credits the park system’s successes to the organizations, businesses and individuals who saw the potentials in the park system, and have supported the park district with their time, resources and funding. “Without the help of MetroParks national, state and community partners, its staff and volunteers, generous donors, and most importantly, the citizens of Butler County, the park system would not exist, and could not have begun to meet the expectations of its customer-owners, the residents of Butler County. It’s been an honor to lead this organization over the last decade and a half, and I look forward to seeing the park system continue to thrive as I transition to a park visitor rather than a public servant.” said Granville.
Under Granville’s leadership, six parks and park areas were added to the MetroParks system, including the Sycamore Bluffs Area of Four Mile Creek MetroPark in Oxford Township, the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark in Madison Township, Forest Run MetroPark in Ross Township, Bicentennial Commons in Middletown, Salamander Run Preserve in Morgan Township, and most recently the Angst Nature Preserve MetroPark in Wayne Township. MetroParks has also increased its maintenance and operational duties over miles of the Great Miami River Trail in Butler County over the last several years. Additionally, Granville oversaw the opening of the Voice of America MetroPark Athletic Field Complex and the Line Hill Mound Area playing fields at Rentschler Forest MetroPark, which have provided recreational facilities for hundreds of thousands of youth and adults since 2014 and 2020 respectively. MetroParks is now comprised of 12 parks, almost 5,000 acres, and approximately 80 different park facilities.
“Given the strength of its Board and the professionalism of its staff, I feel confident that the park district is in good hands and will continue to deliver quality greenspace experiences into the future.” said Granville. President of the Board of Park Commissioners, Daryl Nelson, added “MetroParks of Butler County has been blessed by 14 years of service by Granville, and we wish him well in his retirement. The Board of Park Commissioners is confident in O’Connell’s ability to continue MetroParks’ pursuit of an exceptional park system.”