The next time you find yourself relaxing with a good book under the shade of a tree in a Grandview city park, thank Mike McKee.

McKee, Grandview Heights' arborist, has retired after 21 years with the city.

"I've always been an outdoors person," McKee said. "Even as a kid, I loved playing in the woods and being around nature.

"I could never have been someone who worked in an office all day," he said. "The best part of my job has been being able to be outside all the time."

McKee has spent 30 years working in public service, including stints in Upper Arlington and Columbus before coming to Grandview.

"The most rewarding part is being able to help maintain the street trees and park trees in the community," he said. "They've always been important to people who live here and enjoyed by people who visit Grandview."

An initiative McKee helped set in Grandview was to replace any tree that has to be removed.

"Unfortunately, a lot of Grandview's older trees are not the more desirable specimens," he said. "We have a lot of old silver maples that start to have issues once they reach a certain age.

"We want to maintain our street trees because they add so much to our city's character," McKee said.

Sometimes trees must be replaced because they cause issues with sidewalks or residential properties, he said.

"We make sure we replace those trees with ones that are smaller and won't interfere with power lines or won't be as liable to have its roots spread to the sidewalks," McKee said.

McKee will be "hard to replace," said parks and recreation Director Mike Patterson.

"His skill set and his knowledge of trees will be hard to duplicate," he said. "When we do plantings, we rely on his expertise about what trees would be right for the community and would thrive on the site."

Even more importantly, "Mike's just a good guy," said recreation Supervisor Marta Durban. "We are going to miss our local arborist and longtime friend."

McKee said he plans to operate a private tree service after he retires.

"That's what I did before I got into the public sector," he said. "I'll do that for a while and wait for my wife to retire and then we'll be able to travel and visit our grandchildren."