Cincinnati Parks hires third director in 26 months

Kara Kish resignation not explained
Posted at 8:22 PM, Dec 08, 2021

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Parks Director Kara Kish submitted her resignation Wednesday morning.

The Cincinnati Park Board hired Kish's replacement Wednesday afternoon. What caused the sudden change has yet to be explained.

“We’re all professionals,” Park Board Chairman Jim Goetz said. “I don’t think that as a board we want to talk about personnel issues in a public forum.”

Kish will recieve a lump sum payment of $40,718.66 under a separation agreement released by the Park Board Thursday. She'll also get a payout for 126.65 hours of vacation time and 157.9 hours of accumulated sick leave.

The Park Board emerged from a closed-door, executive session Wednesday and unanimously approved two motions.

The first motion approved the separation agreement in which Kish promised not to sue the city and both parties agreed not to publicly disparage each other.

The second motion was to name John Neyer, CEO of Neyer Property Management, interim director. Neyer will temporarily leave his commercial real estate company and assume Kish’s current salary while the board conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.

Kish did not attend the Park Board meeting where the management shakeup was approved. She did not explain her departure in a resignation letter that was released by the Park Board after the meeting.

“I would like to recognize, thank and celebrate the passion and work of the Cincinnati Parks staff,” Kish said in the letter. “We have been on a journey of transition together through an organizational restructuring and redefined the organizational culture with a primary focus of improving the user experience.”

Goetz did not say how long the change was in the works.

Kish recieved a 1% merit raise and a performance rating of "meets expectations" in her last job review, signed by Park Board President Brad Lindner March 4, 2021.

“Kara performed well for us during a very difficult time as we had the COVID disruptions that we had throughout our system,” Goetz said. “She did a very good job of navigating us through that period of time.”

Park Board member Molly North said she recruited Neyer because of his track record in the real estate industry.

“When I reached out to him, when I thought this might become a possibility, he said that he really had never been quite so surprised, but he came to make a very quick yes,” North said. “It’s kind of a joke in the real estate industry that it’s impossible to be profitable in property management because there are so many details in it and very few people can execute very well on those details. But he’s built a very successful company through his strong leadership.”

North is CEO of Al Neyer Inc. — a commercial real estate company where John Neyer once worked. North stressed the two companies have no shared ownership and John Neyer has not worked for her company for 19 years, so she had no conflict of interest in voting for his hiring.

Goetz agreed Neyer is a good fit.

“John is a lifelong Cincinnatian,” Goetz said. “He’s grown up in Cincinnati Parks. He served for 12 years, I believe it was, on the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. He is also currently serving as a volunteer member of the Park Board’s investment committee, which I chair.”

Neyer is the third director to lead Cincinnati Parks in the last 26 months, but Goetz doesn’t see that turnover rate as a problem.

‘We feel good that as we are putting an interim in place to give us time to thoroughly vet potential candidates for the role permanently,” Goetz said, “we have an excellent staff at the Park Board, and I think we have some very talented people. So I don’t believe there is a problem per se at the Park Board.”

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