During budget discussions last year, Councilman Tom Gallagher even suggested that the city get rid of Butcher, who had been the parks director since 1994.
Butcher, a friendly and highly regarded administrator, won’t have to deal with the pressure anymore.
The 57-year-old is retiring. His last day is next Friday.
The city issued a press release today announcing his retirement, but Butcher gave The Gazette an exclusive interview yesterday.
Butcher said he and his wife, Paula, have been looking toward their future together and “feel spending more time with our family needs to become a top priority.”
(The word on the street is that the city is preparing a new organizational chart and that Butcher was going to be reorganized out of a job. Time will tell if that’s true.)
Even though Butcher saw the dismantling of his department in the past year, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services have flourished under his leadership, the city said.
More than 4,600 acres of open space have been added, including Red Rock Canyon, Blodgett Peak, and Corral Bluffs.
Forty-eight neighborhood parks, encompassing 300 acres, have been developed.
The Julie Penrose Fountain at America the Beautiful Park and the Uncle Wilbur Fountain at Acacia Park were constructed.
A 40,000 square-foot Skate Park in Memorial Park was constructed;
The urban forest has expanded, growing in excess of 123,000 trees.
The Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center was constructed.
“We are going to miss Paul. We’ll miss his professional ‘can-do’ attitude; we’ll miss his dedication to the job; we’ll miss his commitment to community partnerships,” Steve Cox, interim city manager, said today in a statement.
“In particular, Paul has shown a remarkable ability to partner with community leaders to create tangible facilities we can all use, such as the El Pomar Youth Sports Complex and the Southeast YMCA,” Cox said.
As a volunteer, the city said in the news release, Butcher “was instrumental in the passage of the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) taxes in 1997 and 2003, raising more than $77 million dollars for park and open space acquisition.”
Butcher started working for the city in 1984 as a contract administrator. He served in a variety of positions, including as capital improvements program coordinator and interim assistant city manager. Before joining the city, he worked for Penrose Hospital.
Butcher plans to live in Colorado Springs, spending time with his wife and four grandkids and “doing a variety of volunteer and community service work,” the city said.