Michael Meadors, a 27-year veteran of the Johnson County Park and Recreation Department and its executive director since 2001, announced his retirement, effective Dec. 20. He will take over as director of the Olathe parks department March 1.
Meadors has overseen the expansion of the county’s available park land. During his tenure as director, the county acquired 3,029 acres for future parks. While he was superintendent of recreation, the department developed Heritage Soccer Park, built the Roeland Park Sports Dome and Aquatic Center and bought Mid-America sports complex. As park department director, he oversaw the acquisition of the Mid-America West sports complex.
The department also saw some controversy while Meadors was in office. Two years ago, the county allowed hunters to kill deer at Shawnee Mission Park to reduce their overpopulation. That mass culling drew protests from animal rights activists. Deer are still periodically hunted to keep them from overcrowding the park.
Meadors was hired originally as superintendent of recreation in 1986.
Leaving the county park and recreation department was, “a tough, tough decision,” he said. “Half my life has been spent here with Johnson County.”
In general, he said he has been proud of his work with “a world-class team” at county parks. But, “If I had a single regret, it would be that we didn’t get funding to develop nearly 4,500 acres out there.” Plans for new park funding were delayed by a series of other referendums on sales taxes for schools and public safety, he said. Then the recession hit, making new funding for parks a tougher sell.
In Olathe, he will replace Kevin Corbett, who is retiring.
Meadors said he looks forward to the new challenges of the parks department in his hometown. Olathe has added parks and trails and will soon have a new community center.
His retirement from the county means he will be able to draw KPERS retirement funds while being on the job at Olathe.