September 21, 2014

Elyria
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Fond farewell for county parks guru

SHEFFIELD — Friends, family, and colleagues celebrated the retirement of Lorain County Metro Parks Director Dan Martin at the French Creek Nature Center on Friday.

Martin, who officially retired March 31, was the main event at the ceremony on Friday night.

The event, emceed by Rick Fortney, executive director of TrueNorth Cultural Arts Center, and Martin’s replacement, James Ziemnik, took attendees through Martin’s 20 years of accomplishments.

Among them — revitalization of Lorain’s Lakeview Park, an expansion of trails in Elyria, construction of the Towpath Trail on a former rail line and the creation of a Splash Zone facility in Oberlin.

Statements like “consensus builder” and “visionary” were the catchphrases of the evening, as colleagues and friends serenaded Martin and a pair of colleagues jokingly tried to convince him to come back to work, assuring the audience that his retirement had been “a minor misunderstanding.”

Under Martin’s watch, the parks system secured more than $80 million in additional funding from the federal, state and local governments.

The party, fittingly, came on the day after Martin’s announcement of the newest addition to the Metro Parks family — a planned recreational facility and “inclusive” playground in Amherst slated for a 2013 opening.

Martin was the last to speak. Turning to the audience that had supported him over the past 20 years, his wisdom was simple: Use your career to build something meaningful for you and for the world.

“Leave behind something better than you,” he said. “Build great things.”

Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7243 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.