Contrary to rumor, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke says he is not interested in becoming the next Metro Parks director when the position opens Dec. 31.
But Fyke, who held the job for 25 years before leaving in 2003, said he would consider helping on an interim basis once he wraps up his current post under Gov. Phil Bredesen next year.
“My intentions and plans are to finish my term with Gov. Bredesen,” the 70-year-old Fyke said. “I’ve not had any official conversations with anyone about (the Parks opening).
“If for some reason, at the end of next year, there was some way I could help on a temporary or short-term basis,” he said, “I would certainly be willing to try to do that.”
Current Parks Director Roy Wilson announced his resignation this week after taking heat for allowing his department to overshoot this year’s budget by $704,000 and producing an expected $1.77 million budget deficit for next year. He will hold the job until the end of next month.
To ease the shortfall, the seven-member parks board voted to lay off five employees and seek an $850,000 supplemental appropriation, which still needs Metro Council approval.
According to parks spokesperson Jackie Jones, the board will likely seek an interim director following Wilson’s departure.
During his tenure as parks director, Fyke is credited with increasing the system from 57 to 100 parks, while nearly doubling total acreage from 5,800 to 10,237 acres.
“I couldn’t have had it any better,” Fyke said of his time as director. “But when I had an opportunity to work with Gov. Bredesen I took that opportunity, that’s why I left. But, I loved that job.”