Bloomington’s director of parks and recreation, Paula McDevitt, is retiring after three and a half decades of service to the city.
The announcement of McDevitt’s retirement was made at the start of Tuesday’s board of park commissioners meeting, by board president Kathleen Mills.
McDevitt’s final day of service to the city is set for Oct. 16, which means Tuesday’s board meeting was her final one.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, who appointed McDevitt to the position of parks and recreation department head at the start of his first four-year term as mayor in 2016, attended the board meeting to wish McDevitt well.
After recounting some highlights of her nearly eight years of service, including the opening of Switchyard Park, Hamilton said: “On behalf of the people of Bloomington now, and particularly the generations to come, let us say: Well done, good and faithful public servant. Thank you.”
In her remarks Mills said, “We wanted to publicly thank you for being so dedicated and so attentive, to absolutely everything over these years—35 years of service to the parks department.”
Mills added, “And really, I can see, in the time that I’ve been working with you, on the smallest…contracts or personnel issues, the largest budget, or community concern, you’ve been absolutely amazing in all you do.”
McDevitt reciprocated in her remarks. She thanked the mayor, the board and the staff who had gathered around. “I’m very excited about retirement,” McDevitt said, adding, “But what makes it bittersweet is to have served alongside the staff, staff who have retired, and just to lead an incredible group of people who are so dedicated to the work that they do.”
When McDevitt was appointed head of the parks and rec department in 2016, she replaced Mick Renneisen, who had been tapped by Hamilton as deputy mayor. She was serving at the time as recreation services director.
After Tuesday’s board meeting, McDevitt told The B Square she started working for the parks department in 1988, as the teen program coordinator.
Asked if she had a favorite among Bloomington’s public parks, McDevitt grappled with an answer, saying, “They all have really great memories!” But she singled out Bryan Park. “That’s where I have my memories as a student, when I was working seasonal events.”
When Tuesday’s board meeting wrapped up, McDevitt told the board they’d have a resolution in front of them at their next meeting, on Oct. 24, to confirm Tim Street as interim director of parks and recreation. Street currently serves as director of park operations.
McDevitt’s final day of service coincides with her 60th birthday.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton did not seek reelection. Democratic Party nominee Kerry Thomson is unopposed on the Nov. 7 ballot.
McDevitt’s upcoming exit puts the tally of departures from prominent city hall jobs in the runup to a new mayoral administration at around a half dozen.
Deputy mayor Mary Catherine Carmichael’s last day was July 28. Economic and sustainable development director Alex Crowley’s last day was Aug. 7. Human resources director Caroline Shaw left at the end of 2022.
In the mayor’s office, communications director Andrew Krebbs left in mid-June to take over as head of Monroe County Humane Association. Public engagement director Kaisa Goodman left in July to start law school out of state.