City Parks & Recreation Department director Jody Stowers has changed her mind and decided not to leave her job after announcing in November that she would retire.

City Parks & Recreation Department director Jody Stowers has changed her mind and decided not to leave her job after announcing in November that she would retire.

The city announced on Dec. 15 that Stowers, who has worked in the top spot at the parks and recreation department for 12 years, will continue in that capacity. City Manager David Collinsworth said he made the offer to her to stay.

"I approached her and told her that she didn't have to go, that we hadn't interviewed anyone yet," Collinsworth said. "After a candid conversation, I simply offered to her the opportunity to stay put and continue the job she has done for this city over the past decade plus."

While the city had already provided notice of the pending job opening, the selection process had gone no further, according to community affairs coordinator Scott McAfee.

Stowers said she was grateful for the opportunity to continue working in Westerville.

"The city has given so much to me over the years," Stowers said. "I intend to continue to give my all in these upcoming years to make a great parks and recreation department even better."

Collinsworth said finding a replacement a longtime employee such as Stowers would have been difficult.

"Jody's contributions to the quality of life of this community through her leadership are unquestionable and replacing her with an equally qualified, experienced and energetic professional was certainly a tall order," Collinsworth said.

Stowers began her tenure at the head of the department by leading the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces (PROS) 2000 campaign, a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the city's parks and recreation services into the 21st century.

Through this program, Stowers built the framework which led to the passage of PROS 2000 in 1998, paving the way for the Westerville Community Center, the preservation of the historic Everal Barn and Heritage Park, the creation of the Westerville Sports Complex and soccer fields, development of the bikeway and leisure path system, the development of new parks throughout the city and the continued expansion of existing parks and new sports fields, McAfee said.