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Official who led effort to privatize and close city rec centers is leaving

Bill Tyler is returning to Montgomery County

bill tyler

Bill Tyler has resigned as chief of the recreation bureau.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Bill Tyler, who became the point man for the mayor’s controversial plan to privatize and close some youth recreation centers, is leaving city government, The Brew learned this afternoon

Recreation and Parks spokeswoman Gwendolyn Chambers confirmed that Tyler will resign, effective February 15, to become head of the parks department in Montgomery County.

Tyler was hired 2½ years ago as director of the recreation bureau by Gregory A. Bayor, who was lured from a job in Illinois (after a long stint in Montgomery County) in April 2010 shortly after Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became mayor.

Tyler had worked for Bayor in Montgomery County, where he served 11 years in the parks recreation department. Tyler will now return to his former employer as director of the parks department.

Coming to Baltimore, Tyler was thrust into the limelight after a Mayoral Task Force developed a plan to close some rec centers, spin off others, and rehab and expand over time the remaining centers.

During a lengthy RFP (Request for Proposals) process seeking private operators for as many as 25 rec centers, Tyler and Bayor tirelessly proselytized on behalf of the administration’s plan.

Tyler called the consolidation of rec centers a needed reform and described some of the city’s facilities as “horrible” in an inspection tour with The Brew.

Last September, neighborhood kids gather outside the closed Parkside Rec Center near Druid Hill Park. The facilities was shut down in August as a result of the mayor's 2013 budget cuts. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Neighborhood kids gather outside the shuttered Parkview Rec Center near Druid Hill Park last September. The facility was closed a month earlier as a result of the mayor’s 2013 budget cuts. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Plans Scaled Back

After a series of confrontations with some rec center advocates – and repeated criticism by City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young – the Rawlings-Blake administration scaled down its ambitions for privatizing and closing the facilities.

Last April, Bayor left as Baltimore’s rec and parks chief for a similar job with the city of Tampa, Fla. It soon became known that Tyler was looking for a new job.

In November, Ernest W. Burkeen, a former Miami recreation director, was selected by the mayor as the new director of the agency.

Tyler was no longer on the inside track at the department, which was coming under criticism for not having conducted an outside audit of its finances for more than 25 years.

Over Tyler’s tenure, the city has closed five rec centers and four Police Athletic League (PAL) facilities. The city is now in the process of turning over to private operators about 10 of the original 55 rec centers in the agency’s portfolio.

Robert Wall, head of youth and sports, will serve as acting recreation chief until Tyler’s job is permanently filled, Chambers said this afternoon.

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  • trueheart4life

    Bye! Bye! Mr. Tyler … Mr. Ernest W. Burkeen are you observing all of this sir??? 

  • ushanellore

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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