Peninsula Park’s Top Spot Still Not Filled

A year after longtime superintendent Tom Blackwood retired, Peninsula State Park still does not have a permanent replacement in his old position.

Gene Tiser, Peninsula’s assistant superintendent, has served as acting superintendent since Blackwood’s last day on Dec. 28 of 2009. Tiser had applied for the position but was recently notified that he is no longer in the running for the job.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which oversees state parks and is responsible for hiring, has seen many positions sit unfilled in recent years due to budget cuts. However, Arnie Lindauer, district supervisor for the Wisconsin State Parks System, said the Peninsula position isn’t part of the hiring freeze.

The DNR is “moving as fast as we possibly can” to hire a permanent superintendent, Lindauer said, but it’s a long process. “This position is not frozen, it remains open, and we have approval to fill. While many other positions in the DNR are frozen, this position is deemed important.”

Lindauer could not provide a timetable for getting the position filled. Tiser did not comment on being passed over, but said that at this time, it is his intention to remain at Peninsula.

The DNR has also begun work updating its master plan, which is the road map for park management used to guide decisions on new ideas, developments, and uses. The new master plan will not be specific to Peninsula, however, but will instead be a composite plan for all five Door County state parks.

“This will allow us to compare parks and decide where the best locations are for some of our limited resources,” Tiser wrote in his annual report to the Friends of Peninsula State Park. That statement has some people worried that uses could be eliminated at some parks, but Tiser and Lindauer said that is unlikely.

Lindauer said the all-in-one master plan approach is a function of the parks proximity to each other.

“A user who may not be accommodated in one park might be best accommodated in another,” Lindauer said. Lindauer said the idea isn’t to eliminate, but to enhance services and opportunities at certain parks rather than all of them.

“I think that’s a good thing,” Tiser said. “Instead of each park trying to be all things to all people, we may find that one park does one thing really well and we can enhance that, while another might do another thing really well.”

Tiser said it’s unclear how the plan will shake out, and it’s too early to draw conclusions.

“For instance, we’ll still have cross-country skiing at all the parks, but what level of grooming and what type could change,” he said.

The park is presently working on an inventory of the plant and animal life in the parks, with the public input phase of the master plan scheduled to begin in 2012. Before the plan is finalized, Tiser said there will be multiple opportunities for public input, including public hearings.