Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Mill Creek Park becomes escape from quarantine and stress

Even with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, trips to the park are allowed. If you keep your distance from other people, getting outside can be a nice way to forget about the virus lurking around us.

On Wednesday at Mill Creek Park’s Daffodil Meadow, white and purple crocuses mingled with the yellow daffodils, forcing people to break from their walks to take pictures.

“It’s relaxing,” Joanne Forsythe said. “It just kind of clears your head.”

A mile away, the park’s East Golf Hike and Bike Trail was busier than normal.

“I’m tired of sitting in the house, cleaning cupboards, closets, drawers and decided to go for a walk in the park,” Forsythe said. “It’s beautiful out here. And tired of looking for toilet paper.”

A mile-and-a-half from the bike trail at Boardman’s Good Hope Lutheran Church, Pastor Bob Quaintance was passing out consecrated communion wafers in bags of 10 to be used as his congregation watches the Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services streamed online.

“We’d like our people to be able to participate in worship and communion,” he said. “Word and sacrament is an important part of our liturgy as Lutherans.”

Pastor Bob said online streaming has gone well. On Saturday, he even streamed a funeral service.

“We had over 500 people ‘attend’ the funeral service for their friend who couldn’t have been there because they were following the governor’s advice and staying home.”

He’s looking to buy a camera to replace the iPhone that’s currently being used.

Boardman-based psychologist Dr. Nicole Rantilla was also at the park Wednesday.

“I’m seeing a huge increase in anxiety and stress,” she said.

Rantilla, who is now doing teletherapy sessions, had some advice for everyone:

“To be kind to themselves, to take care, to show themselves grace. Not to feel pressured to do a bunch of stuff because you’re home and also to be kind to yourself if you just want to take the day nice and slow, and focus on a task or two at a time.”

The communion wafers at Good Hope Lutheran Church will be handed out again Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Mill Creek Park will be open again as well.

Full article at WKBN

Mill Creek MetroParks say get close to nature, not to each other

Spending time outdoors is a great way to stay active and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Reconnecting with nature can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Although many Mill Creek MetroParks indoor facilities, outdoor playgrounds, and programs have been closed and canceled, Mill Creek Park itself remains open for visitors to get outside and explore. Mill Creek MetroParks officials want to remind park users of the importance of following all guidelines from state and local health officials, such as social distancing and practicing good hygiene to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov

Full article at WFMJ

Mill Creek, Stambaugh golf courses closed as coronavirus precaution

People who want to stretch their legs during Ohio’s Stay at Home order won’t be able to do it at a couple of the Valley’s golf courses.

Mill Creek MetroParks announced on Monday that the Mill Creek Golf Course on West Golf Drive, Boardman, will be closed to the public through at least Sunday, April 5, 2020,

A statement from the park says the closure is due to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order in an effort to help control the spread of the COVID-19 Virus.

For similar reasons, the Youngstown Health Department is restricting public access to the Henry Stambaugh golf course on Gypsy Lane.

According to the Frequently Asked Questions posted by state officials, Families will still be able to go outside, including to parks and outdoor spaces that remain open, and take a walk, run, or bike rid.

However, people are still being asked to practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people.

Playgrounds are closed because they pose a high risk of increasing transmission.

Full article at WFMJ

Mill Creek golf course remains open

Mill Creek MetroParks is following all of the recommendations regarding COVID-19 and has closed several indoor public facilities through April 5. However, all of Mill Creek Park’s outdoor features will remain open, including the golf course.

On Monday, the north course was open for play. Golfers still have to negotiate some challenging par 3s, stay out of sand bunkers and weave through tall trees.

Golfers play 65,000 to 68,000 rounds a year at Mill Creek Park and they will notice changes.

“I think the new cart paths, something that’s long overdue,” said Brian Tolnar, PGA director of golf. “I guess they got started around 2002. We’re going to complete those this year. We’ll have 18 holes on the south course completed, plus four on the north course. We did a greens draining project in the fall so we’re excited to showcase that.”

Mill Creek Park has added more room to the golf shop. It took space from an office for its remodel, updated the look and added more golf gear.

Full article at wkbn.com

Mill Creek’s North Course to open today for 2020 golf season

The North Course at Mill Creek Golf Course is scheduled to open for the season at noon today (March 16).

On Friday, in reacting to the coronavirus pandemic, Mill Creek MetroPark officials said, “All Mill Creek MetroParks outdoor locations will remain open including Mill Creek Park, Fellows Riverside Gardens, MetroParks Bikeway, Mill Creek Golf Course, James L. Wick Recreation Area, Scholl Recreation Area, Yellow Creek Park, and All Nature Preserves.”

To check on any changes or to schedule tee times, call 330-740-7112 or go to www.millcreekmetroparks.org.

The South Course has a tentative opening date of April 6, weather permitting.

The Practice Range and Learning Center at the Mill Creek Golf Course and the James L. Wick Jr. Recreation Area par-3 golf course are both scheduled to open April 13.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com

Mill Creek Park celebrates warmer weather with new boat launch

If kayaking is your way of enjoying the warm days, you have a new spot to check out in Mill Creek MetroParks.

The East Newport Boat Launch is officially open. The dock has been replaced with floating plastic docks, a non-slip ramp, a double stainless steel railing and a new observation deck with built-in benches.

New metal kayak racks have been installed as well. A few people were out Monday checking out the new facility, and it should be even more popular this summer.

Full article at wkbn.com

Bouldering: A Growing Sport In Youngstown

Interested in bouldering in the Youngstown area? Look no further than Youngstown State University’s Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center or behind Bears Den Cabin in Mill Creek Park.

Bouldering is different from rock climbing, according to Norm Swann, Northern Ohio stewardship director of the Ohio Climber’s Coalition.

“Bouldering is extremely hard moves at a very short distance. It is climbing on rocks that are very short without a rope,” he said. “Generally, rock climbing is higher. The goal is to get to the top of the boulder. Boulders are typically only 15 feet tall or so. Sometimes we do a sit-down start where you sit on your mat to get more climbing.”

“Highball bouldering has elite climbers practicing with ropes on rocks 50 feet tall. Then there is solo climbing where you go high enough that you can die.” Swann said there are various styles of bouldering and they can be very dangerous.

R.J. Markowitz, the adventure recreation coordinator for the Department of Campus Recreation, said bouldering is a more technical form of climbing.

“It is a lot more problem-solving [than rock climbing], a lot more moving your body in unique ways.”

YSU will host a bouldering competition at the climbing wall inside Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center on Feb. 29 at 10 a.m.

Jacob Winters, a sophomore computer science major and member of the adventure rec team, said that the competition will have many climbers and multiple routes for them to travel along the wall.

“The competition entails about 40 to 45 routes on the lower section of the wall,” he said. “Twenty to 30 climbers are going to come in and be looking to climb the various routes from beginner to expert difficulty. They are going to get points based on the difficulty of the routes they climbed and how many attempts it took them to climb it.”

Markowitz is in charge of setting the competition up and said it is open for anyone, including the general public.

“The one thing that I love about this is we get climbers from all over coming. Usually, when we host this competition, we’ll have folks from West Virginia University, Edinboro, Toledo and Slippery Rock always have a great turnout here,” he said.

Markowitz said it’s a way for climbers to exchange ideas and network.

He said people have competed on the rock wall for at least 10 years, with the bouldering competition occurring once a year.

“They’ve been doing some sort of series like this since the wall has been at YSU,” he said. “We do some sort of competition like this every semester, excluding the summer.”

Winters said the adventure rec team is planning a trip to Mill Creek Park over the summer, which was recently approved for bouldering.

Jamie Yohman, Mill Creek MetroParks community engagement director, said bouldering in the park was approved in the Bears Den Cabin area Nov. 12 and boulderers must follow park rules.

“The park will not supply equipment to the climbers,” she said. “Climbing with ropes, anchors and bolts is banned.”

“We are very much a community down here. Everybody who comes down here, they want to climb. They want to help you climb,” he said.  Markowitz said while Mill Creek MetroParks is for more experienced climbers, the rec center wall is perfect for beginners.

“Our staff is incredibly knowledgeable; they are trained,” Markowitz added. “They will climb with you whether it is your first time down here or whether it’s your 500th time. This is the best part to start.”

Bouldering will be available in Mill Creek Park during regular park hours, while the rec center climbing wall is open 12-8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those who want to participate can preregister for the bouldering competition at YSU at store.reccenter.ysu.edu for $20 or sign up at the event for $25.


Full article at thejambar.com

Nature Photography Exhibit to be displayed in Mill Creek’s Weller Gallery

Photographs from amateur photographers will be on display from Saturday (Feb. 15) through April 12 during the annual Nature Photography Exhibit in the Weller Gallery in the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens, 123 McKinley Ave.

The free exhibit offers visitors an opportunity to view landscapes, wild animals, Mill Creek MetroParks scenes and more through the lens of the photographers during normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.

A session to meet the photographers will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 23.

For information on the exhibit, call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330-740-7116.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com

Mill Creek Park improvements coming

Mill Creek MetroParks enthusiasts may notice changes around the park system as the year progresses.

Multiple capital improvement projects are on the calendar, including the renovation of the Ford Nature Center, with a capital campaign project aimed at $3 million.

Throughout the rest of the year, multiple improvement projects totaling $1.9 million are scheduled.

“It’s going to be a big year,” said Steve Avery, former planning and operations director, who recently retired.

Following the Ford Nature Center project, Avery said Wick Recreation Area will see sprucing up, with a cost of $500,000.

As “unexciting” as that project may sound, “it is exciting” as a new maintenance facility will be constructed, which will be used for storage and equipment servicing, Avery said.

The warming house, which Avery described as “a nice, relatively historic structure,” will be renovated. The warming house, which has been utilized as a maintenance facility, will house various programs upon completion.

Next on the improvements list in terms of cost are road improvements, for $350,000.

East Newport Drive, from Shields Road to Kreider’s Entrance, will be improved, while Valley Drive from East Park Drive to the suspension bridge will see improvements.

Partially funded by the biennial Ohio Department of Transportation road tax allocation, storm drainage and pipe replacement will occur, along with guardrail improvements, asphalt paving, pavement markings and aggregate shoulders.

The next costly project is cart path paving at Mill Creek Golf Course, with $325,000 set aside.

Paving will take place “substantially on the south course,” Avery said. Some years ago, aggregate cart paths were constructed, and now this year those paths, totaling about 2.6 miles, will be paved.

Fellows Riverside Garden, also known as “the rose garden,” will see a brand new structure that will serve as the outdoor educational building.

Avery said the proposed structure will be constructed in the Children’s Garden.

This project received the core of its funding through private funds, Avery said. About $200,000 comes from the Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens endowment fund.

One unique project will cover a distance, Avery said.

General annual trail improvements will be underway, costing $175,000.

Resurfacing the MetroParks Bikeway will include asphalt repair and paving, and aggregate shoulders.

The bikeway goes from Trumbull County through Austintown, into Canfield where it ends at Western Reserve Road. Two miles of the bikeway are anticipated to be worked on, Avery said.

Smaller projects are included in the trail improvements category, including the bridge construction at the Hitchcock Woods Hiking Trail, maintenance at the Vickers Nature Preserve and East Golf Hike and Bike Trail.

Other projects slated for 2020 throughout Mill Creek MetroParks are:

• Parking lot improvements for $150,000;

• Signage improvements for $25,000;

• Pavilion improvements at Old Log Cabin and Scholl Pavilion for $25,000;

• Comfort station improvements at the Lily Pond for $50,000;

• Bridge improvements on Old Orchard Bridge for $200,000;

• Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Mill Creek Preserve improvements for $40,000;

• McGuffey Wildlife Preserve improvements for $50,000;

• Other Fellows Riverside Gardens improvements for $75,000.

Professional consultant services were budgeted, including $150,000 for the Ford Nature Center, $35,000 for the Wick Recreation Area maintenance facility, and $50,000 for the Wick Recreation Area warming house.

Mill Creek MetroParks has 12 locations that span over seven townships, three cities and one village.

Full article at vindy.com

Longtime park director retires

Today marks the end of an era for Mill Creek MetroParks and its planning and operations director Steve Avery.

After 31 years with the park, Avery is retiring.

“I’m blessed I could be at one place for that long for one career,” Avery said.

His story began more than 35 years ago, when he attended The Ohio State University, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture.

Working in Columbus for one year, he then progressed to the city of Cleveland.

In 1989, Avery saw a job posting at Mill Creek Park and decided to apply. “It appealed to me to work in a park district,” he said.

The advancement, as he called it, wasn’t just a planning position, but also a challenge.

“They knew they wanted an on-staff landscape architect to direct. They picked me. Next thing you know, 31 years went by,” Avery said.

Avery grew up in Hinckley Township in Medina County. Growing up, he said his family rented a house in the park district there, so the idea to work in a park was attractive.

There are several milestone projects sprinkled throughout Avery’s career.

“Every achievement is so unique. We’ve had some really awesome projects,” he said, adding that while the projects weren’t necessarily costly, they were one-of-a-kind, which “really made them special.”

The bikeway spanning across Mahoning County is one memory Avery looks back on fondly.

“It was an old abandoned rail line that ran across the county,” he said. Although the trail isn’t exactly inside Mill Creek Park, it still gives people a reason to visit the area.

The Kirk Road Trailhead project was another highlight Avery mentioned, noting the abandonded county engineer outpost facility was redeveloped when it was given to the MetroParks.

“Mahoning Avenue is five lanes of traffic there, so (bicyclists) had to cross five lanes which was difficult depending on the time of day,” he recalled. Through federal funding, an overpass was built, allowing people on bikes or runners/walkers to contine on their way without the worry of rush hour traffic.

“Major rehabilitation” on the silver suspension bridge, more commonly known as “The Cinderella Bridge” is another milestone of which Avery is proud.

“When you’re working on an 1890s structure, there’s lots of care that goes to it, keeping it looking as good but also improving it,” he said.

Another “really satisfying and exciting project” was adding a floating boardwalk to the back portion of the Lily Pond.

In his new role as retiree, Avery said he “plans on doing a number of things,” such as devoting a little more time to nonprofits he’s involved with, as well as preparing for his fifth grandchild.

He is also looking forward to helping his son, a pastor of a small church. “I’ll be able to devote more time to taking care of the grounds,” he said.

Still, he doesn’t want to jump right into work after retirement. Avery hopes to rest a little, saying he knows he has some items to cross off the “honey-do” list.

Laughing, he said he has “1,001 projects at home.”

Full article at vindy.com