Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department leader Al Moll to retire March 30

Al Moll plans to retire March 30 from his job as director of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. ( file photo)

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department Director Al Moll will retire effective March 30, he announced during the board of park commissioners meeting Thursday at Citizens Square.

Moll, clearly emotional, paused, heaved a loud sigh and then said, “Give me a second,” before telling the board he plans to leave the department he said he has been “blessed” to lead.

“I’m happy. I’m ready to move on,” Moll said. “It’s time.

“I want to thank everybody,” he added. “It’s been a great ride.”

Park board member William Zielke will chair the search committee to find Moll’s successor. Park board President Richard Samek said the board hopes to have a new parks leader in place by late February so the person can train with Moll for a month before he retires.

Moll, who has led the parks department since 2005, said he was going to retire last year, but city leaders asked him to stay on to continue guiding local riverfront development efforts.

He previously served as city controller in 2003 and as Fort Wayne deputy mayor in 2004 and 2005.

During Moll’s leadership, the parks department has added parks, made major improvements at others, expanded programming, and increased attendance at Foellinger Outdoor Theatre events and at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.

The department also built the Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground, which the department said has earned recognition around the world as an example of a play area for children of all abilities.

After leaving the parks department, Moll plans to rest before getting involved any new activities, he said after the meeting. He will continue assisting with riverfront development efforts through service on committees.

“It’s time to get some new leadership and new energy,” he said. “I still have the passion, I just don’t have the energy.”

He also believes he is leaving the parks department in good hands.

“We probably have the strongest bench strength of any department in the city,” he said.

“Al has been a tremendous public servant with a commitment to providing excellent services to our community,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a news release. “I appreciate and admire Al’s ability to develop and implement innovative initiatives that have had a lasting and meaningful impact in Fort Wayne. We’ll miss his experience, expertise and leadership, and wish him well.”

Moll’s retirement is one of three recent major personnel changes impacting the parks department.

Garry Morr, deputy director of finance and support services, recently was named to succeed Len Poehler as city controller. Poehler is retiring March 30.

Mark Becker, the parks department’s deputy director of riverfront also is retiring at the end of this month. Park board members read a resolution congratulating and thanking him for his service, which included helping to raise $5 million in donations and sponsorships for riverfront development projects.

Becker said he will continue to help the parks department with Phases II and III of riverfront development on a part-time basis. He also will serve as a consultant to Parkview Health on community development matters.