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We continued Season 2 Thursday at Euclid Beach Park with Brian Zimmerman, CEO to Cleveland Metroparks. You can watch the full interview again below:
Zimmerman took over the Metroparks in 2010 and is credited with the park system's successful expansion, though critics have questioned his salary and benefits.
Zimmerman addressed his earnings Thursday, noting that he isn't an elected official and was hired from a candidate pool for the job.
"I was hired for the profession and the professionalism that I bring to this agency," he said. "The salary is one of those things where I think it's a conversation piece. Some people would say I'm over and some people would say I'm under. The reality is, I'm here to do by job to the best of my ability and to lead this great park system."
Despite the Metroparks' expansion as the system has acquired more acres, Zimmerman says his goal is the draw more visitors to the parks and provide a quality experience.
"It's not always about land and land expansion, it's about quality products going back to the community," he said, noting Edgewater Beach as an example. "...It's really found its paradigm. It's really been embraced by not only the community, but families that used to go there generations ago."
Zimmerman's vision for the next decade of Metroparks is to connect the parks to Cleveland and its suburbs, as he noted the Towpath trail. He even mentioned plans to potentially connect Cleveland to Columbus and Pittsburgh.
"In the next 10 years, we're going to lay a lot of the groundwork to make more connections, and then we hope to continue to execute on the work we started," he said.