Buckhorn goes national in selecting new Parks & Rec. head for Tampa

In leaving in December without any fanfare, Karen Palus became the highest-ranked Tampa department head to leave Buckhorn's administration without another announced place to go since he took over nearly a year ago. Other high-ranking officials left over from the Pam Iorio reign, such as Bonnie Wise, Mark Huey and Steve Daignault, either left for greener pastures or in Daignault's case, retired.

Palus was at the center of one of the few controversies to surface over the past year under the new administration. That's when the City Council grew weary about the lack of progress being made in finding funding for Williams Park Pool in East Tampa, even though a South Tampa pool had already re-opened after repairs. Ultimately the funding was found in the budget for Williams, after Council member Frank Reddick declared he wouldn't vote for the mayor's budget until that funding was located (Mayor Buckhorn took exception at the time to the comparison, saying that the two situations were not alike at all).

Back in 2009 Palus came under fire after some Council members and many members of the public took umbrage after fees were raised to use city park and rec facilities. Ultimately, most of those fee increases were reversed after so much public opposition.

Council members also complained they couldn't get a straight answer on the Williams Park issue.

City officials have since committed to spending $1.2 million on the Williams Park Pool, with a contract being awarded as soon as the first of the year.

And at Mayor Bob Buckhorn's first town hall meeting in East Tampa in July, the discussion was dominated by pointed questions about city parks.

Bayor will report directly to Buckhorn's chief of staff, Santiago Corrada. His starting salary will be $132,000. A start date has yet to be determined. Public Affairs Director Ali Glisson reports that he will serve in an interim capacity until Bayor can establish residency within the City of Tampa, at which time his nomination will go before Tampa City Council for confirmation.

  • Greg Bayor replaces Karen Palus as Parks & Rec. Director in Tampa

Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced Tuesday afternoon that he has selected Greg Bayor as the City of Tampa Director of Parks and Recreation, replacing Karen Palus, who stepped down unceremoniously last December after seven years on the job.

Bayor has been serving in a similar position in Baltimore for the past two years. Before that, for more than a decade he served as the Director of Recreation in Montgomery County, Maryland, overseeing all recreation facilities and programming. He also served as Parks and Rec director for the City of Elgin, Illinois.

On the surface, the move should be encouraging for those City Hall observers who have called on Buckhorn to go far and wide to find the best talent to serve in his administration.


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