The Columbus Park Board president has resigned, citing “divisive obstructionism and outright subordination” shown to the board by various city officials.

David Jones, who was appointed to the board Jan. 9, 2014, by former Mayor Kristen Brown, tendered his resignation to Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop in a letter dated Feb. 25.

He will be replaced by Julie Abedian, who serves as vice president of community partnerships and corporate responsibility for Columbus Regional Health and president of the Columbus Regional Health Foundation.

In his letter to Lienhoop, Jones said he was stepping down to spend more time with his family and other community endeavors.

Story continues below gallery

However, in a news release distributed this week and in a follow-up interview with The Republic, Jones said his resignation resulted from repeated resistance from the city’s parks and recreation department to his efforts to streamline department operations.

“I admit I was a staunch advocate for open and transparent processes as well as streamlining a department that has long been bloated and lumbering,” Jones said in his news release.

“Never, however, was there a time when a matter could have been considered easy.”

Jones said he attempted to use his position on the park board to introduce ideas that would improve the department’s operations — not just by creating additional services but also by enhancing available services.

The parks and recreation department oversees the city’s parks as well as the Columbus Gymnastics Center, Donner Aquatic Center, Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena, The Commons and the People Trails.

Parks and Recreation director Mark Jones declined to comment on David Jones’ reasons for his resignation. However, the director said he appreciated the former board president’s efforts on behalf of the department.

In addition to pushback from the parks department, David Jones said he believed the Columbus City Council and the Lienhoop administration supported the department’s resistance to his efforts.

Without the support of city government, Jones said he did not believe he could effectively serve in a city position.

“Serving at the will of an appointing mayor is vastly different from serving at the will of the new administration, and I did not feel that my time would have been valued or that my opening would have been garnered as relevant to the Lienhoop administration,” Jones also said in his news release.

Lienhoop said he was surprised and disappointed by David Jones’ comments, especially considering the congenial nature of his resignation letter.

While the mayor said he does recall instances when Jones exnewsed frustration with the former city council, which Lienhoop served on before becoming mayor, he said he cannot point to an incident where Jones voiced the specific concerns listed in his news release.

“I don’t understand where he’s coming from,” Lienhoop said.

Abedian will be sworn in at the board’s April 14 meeting.

Jones’ resignation from the parks board also leaves open his seat on the Columbus Plan Commission because the seat is a reciprocal appointment.

What's next

Julie Abedian will be sworn in as the newest member of the Columbus Park Board at the April 14 meeting. Abedian, listed as a Democrat, has been appointed by Mayor Jim Lienhoop and will serve through Dec. 31, 2017. During the April meeting, the board will open nominations to select a new president, vice president and secretary.

The other park board members are:

  • Justin Hohn, a Republican appointed by then-Mayor Kristen Brown, whose term ends Dec. 31 of this year.
  • Jennifer Carroll, an independent also appointed by Brown, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2018.
  • Mark Levett, a Democrat appointed by Mayor Jim Lienhoop, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2019.

A replacement for Jones’ seat on the Columbus Plan Commission also will be selected at that time.

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.