Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Fellows Riverside Gardens shows off tree, light displays

Fellows Riverside Gardens has kicked off its the Festival of Trees display.

Starting Saturday, the community will have a chance to check out the free event.

More than 50 trees will be on display — all decorated by organizations across the Mahoning Valley.

Community Engagement Director Jaime Yohman said it’s a great opportunity for those organizations.

“To showcase what they offer to the community and just give a little bit of insight and information to the public on how they can help with needs in the community,” Yohman said.

The Festival of Trees opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Saturday.

You will be able to see the tree display Tuesday through Sunday, through January 7.

You can also check out the Winter Nights light display at the same location.

The Winter Nights display is going to be the first three Saturdays in December. Because it is a light display, the garden hours will be extended until 7 p.m. on those days.

View the original article at WKBN.

Valley organizations decorate 55 trees for festival

Mill Creek MetroParks is ready to start its holiday celebration, which is sponsored by WKBN and free for everybody.

Winter Celebration starts Saturday at Fellows Riverside Gardens. On Tuesday, the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities putting together its tree for the Festival of Trees display.

In total, 55 trees are being decorated by organizations across the Mahoning Valley.

“It’s a way for them to spread the word to our many, many visitors through the month of December on what their organization has to offer and how they might help,” said educator Lynn Zocolo.

This is the 20th year for the Winter Celebration: Festival of Trees. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day but Mondays, through Jan. 7.

The first three Saturdays in December, the display hours are being extended until 7 p.m. for guests to experience the Winter Nights outdoor light display.

See original article on WKBN.

Event brings holiday spirit to Lanterman’s Mill

People celebrated Christmas the old-fashioned way in Mill Creek Park on Saturday.

Down at Lanterman’s Mill, artisans made antique crafts. Kids could also make snowflakes to decorate their homes.

Even the big man himself, Santa Claus, made an appearance.

People could also share the holiday spirit with others. They decorated a Giving Tree with hats, scarves or mittens.

That winter gear will be given to children to help keep them warm.

Mill Creek MetroParks Recreation Manager Chris Bundy said this is the 34th year of Olde Fashioned Christmas at Lanterman’s Mill.

“It’s a fun family tradition,” said Bundy. “Being the weekend after Thanksgiving, there are a lot of people in town visiting family.”

If you missed out on going Saturday, the event will also be happening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.


See original article at WKBN.

Mill Creek golf tournament receives top award from state organization

Mill Creek MetroParks has been honored by the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association.

Mill Creek Golf Courses’ American Junior Golf Association Junior All Star Tournament placed first in the sports category of the association’s annual Awards of Excellence.

The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around the state.

“Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward said in a news release. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”

In fall 2015, Mill Creek MetroParks created a partnership with the American Junior Golf Association to bring a national event to the state. In June 2016, Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation AJGA Junior All Star Tournament was created. Competitors from 19 states and three countries participated in the first tournament.

This year, the AJGA hosted the standard Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation Junior All Star event with the addition of an AJGA Preview Event, allowing the course to host two, 54-hole tournaments with 100 player qualifiers. The tournament brought in more than 40 college golf coaches to recruit players.

“It’s a great way to showcase the MetroParks and the golf course, all while giving back to our local community,” Brian Tolnar, PGA golf director, said in the release.

The event has brought nearly $2 million to the community through hotel stays, dining, rental cars, shopping and entertainment spending, the release states.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for the work that we are doing to impact the local community and the dedication demonstrated by the Golf & Recreation Department here at Mill Creek MetroParks,” Aaron Young, Mill Creek MetroParks executive director, said.

View the article at Mahoning Matters

Mill Creek Metroparks acquires more land in Valley, plans new park

Mill Creek MetroParks is expanding with recently purchased property in Mahoning County.

An 88.38-acre parcel off of Springfield Road, just north of Interstate 76, in Springfield Township was recently purchased and will be improved to include a trail system, an entrance drive, parking, new signage a fishing dock/boardwalk, and ecological restoration.

This is the first property in Springfield Township owned by the park system.

View the article at WKBN

‘Love Affair with Nature’ exhibit highlights Valley’s beauty by local artist

The work of local artist Tom Harwood will be on display at the Weller Gallery at Fellows Riverside Gardens.

Many of Harwood’s creations showcase Valley landscapes.

Harwood has selected works featuring the relationships between light and color in landscape paintings. The result is a feast for the viewer, in watercolors and oils. As they are drawn into each painting, the viewer must decide whether they would open the gate, enter the clearing, or walk down the path.

This free exhibit is being displayed Oct. 17 through Jan. 9 during normal operating hours, which are Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A Meet the Artist session will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Weller Gallery.

View full article on WKBN

Upgrades blossom in Mill Creek: Education center, roads among top MetroParks projects

Construction of a new outdoor education center near Fellows Riverside Gardens and repairs to a section of East Newport Drive near the boat launch are among the Mill Creek MetroParks construction projects taking place this summer.

Programs will be held year-round at the building, located at the south end of the parking lot at the gardens. A target date for completing the new building and starting programs is October.

Two of the sides of the building will have retractable glass doors to provide a “pavilion” feel during nice weather. The doors can be closed in colder or wet conditions.

It also will be a “support area” for special events such as the Pumpkin Walk in October or Christmas lights events, Rogers said.

Outdoor site work for the Children’s Garden, which will be around the building, will take place next year. Work began on the $400,000 project about two months ago.

A maintenance building on the site is being removed to make way for the new building.

Meanwhile, on the east side of Lake Newport on East Newport Drive just south of the boat launch, workers have been constructing a retaining wall to address the “slide” of soil that damaged the roadway and caused the MetroParks to close part of the road to the public.

When the retaining wall is complete, then repairs to the road will be made.

A consulting firm did some testing and determined that there was a “slip plane” “that caused this area to shift and slump,” Rogers said.

Consultants developed a couple of solutions and MetroParks officials in January placed the work on the list of 2021 projects. The cost for that project also will be $400,000.

“The wall will be constructed between the road and the lake to stabilize that area. What they are doing is installing vertical steel piles into bedrock and then building the wall up from that to prevent any future slide,” Rogers said.

The steel I-beam piles are spaced eight feet apart with vertical pieces of concrete between them.

Park officials started to notice movement of the soil and asphalt in March 2020 and the issue progressed rapidly, resulting in that part of the road being barricaded in March or April.

“What were cracks became significant fissures and became unsafe,” Rogers said.

Work on the retaining wall began several weeks ago. A few of the piles have been installed so far. Completion of the project is estimated to be in about six weeks.

In another area of the park on East Glacier Drive not far from Fellows Riverside Gardens, officials have noticed some minor soil movement — called sloping — but it is off of the edge of the road and has not required any changes to traffic patterns.

“There’s no cracks in the pavement or anything like that, but we are keeping an eye on it,” he said.

Another project Rogers has worked on this year is the former warming house at the Wick Recreation Area on McCollum Road. It is near the wet and dry playgrounds and tennis courts. The warming house was a maintenance building for a couple of decades.

The MetroParks went out to bid in the spring to have the warming house converted into a banquet facility and rental space with retail space for apparel for tennis, golf and sand volleyball and Dek hockey. It also will have upgraded restrooms.

But the bids came in too high, and the project is expected to be re-bid in October.

The projects this year are similar to most years with projects picked from various categories, such as a road improvement, a bridge, parking lot, trails, recreational facilities.

“We like to have some improvement spread out throughout the MetroParks,” Rogers said.



Mill Creek Metroparks has about $2.9 million in capital improvements planned this year. They include:

• Wick Warming House renovations, $800,000

• Wick Recreation Area Warming House renovations project management, $50,000

• Outdoor Education Center construction, $400,000

• Ford Nature Center exhibit construction, $360,000

• Fellows Riverside Gardens Davis Center repairs, $75,000

• Fellows Riverside Gardens Rose Garden improvements, $35,000

• Lanterman’s Mill site improvements, $10,000

• MetroParks Farm improvements, $14,500

• Golf course improvements, $7,000

• Fuel station upgrades, $135,000

• Annual road improvement design, $35,000

• Annual road improvements, $625,000

• Annual parking lot improvements, $200,000

• Annual trail improvements, $125,000

• Annual signage improvements, $25,000

• Annual pavilion improvements, $25,000

• Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary improvements $20,000

• Millcreek Preserve improvements, $20,000

Full article at The Vindicator


Police teach kids how to fish at Mill Creek

The Mill Creek MetroParks held its Hooked on Fishing event Saturday where kids up to 15 years old were able to come out to the MetroParks Farm and learn the basics of fishing.

Members of the Mill Creek MetroParks Police Department were there to assist the kids.

Volunteers build beds for kids in Columbiana County
They taught them how to set up fishing poles, how to cast and to identify different species of fish.

It was a catch and release event. So, after the kids caught the fish, they would release them back into the water.

“Gives kids a chance to come out. We help them fish, interact with the police community a little bit. Officers from the department volunteered their time today, so we assist them with fishing and trying to have a good time with the kids,” said Randy Campana, Chief of Mill Creek Police.

The event was made possible through an ODNR grant called Step Outside.

Campana says they’ve been doing this for around 14 years, and they typically have a

Mill Creek Park is the perfect spot no matter how ready you are for crowds again

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mill Creek MetroParks is the place to be, no matter how anxious you are about seeing people — whether you can’t wait to be in crowds again or still want to stay far away.

As everything begins to reopen, some might be having anxiety about doing things with a lot of people around. That’s why going back to nature might be a great solution.

Mill Creek MetroParks has so many fun activities you can do with smaller groups or your loved ones. You can bike, play disc golf, paddle boat, or walk or hike on the trails, which there are over 45 miles of.

Park officials said people were so happy to have the park during COVID, that it’s become a great escape for many even as things have been opening up again.

“The park is just a great place to come because it is outdoors, you’re able to social distance and it’s just a safe environment, and you can kind of gauge how far or how close you want to be to somebody else,” said Jaime Yohman, community engagement director.

If you are ready to do things with other people again, the park has a lot for you to do, too.

You can head over to Live at the Morley, where there will be concerts. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, and you can keep as much distance from others as you want.

Mill Creek’s Garden Cafe is open again and Lake Glacier is also a great spot.

“So we are just absolutely thrilled that things are getting back to normal,” Yohman said. “We’re seeing a lot of people out. We saw a lot of people out during the pandemic but even so, now people are just ready to enjoy a little bit of normalcy and to be out and about and enjoy each other’s company.”

If you want to learn more about any of Mill Creek Park’s programs, you can visit its website.

Full article at WYTV

Garden Cafe by Kravitz reopens and reinvents

In Youngstown’s treasured Mill Creek MetroParks, amid Fellows Riverside Garden, is Garden Cafe by Kravitz. The scenic eatery overlooking Glacier Lake reopened for business last week for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located at 123 McKinley Ave., Garden Cafe by Kravitz is on the Garden Level of the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center, at Fellows Riverside Gardens. It is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Owner Jack Kravitz is longtime owner of Kravitz Delicatessen, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Belmont Avenue last year. Mill Creek MetroParks offered the space for Garden Cafe by Kravitz about five years ago with the mission to bring more diverse groups of people and families to the park, Kravtiz told Mahoning Matters.

The partnership between the Kravitz brand and Mill Creek MetroParks has benefitted both entities, he said.

“We started off with Aaron Young (executive director of Mill Creek MetroParks) and he talked with us about what his vision was for the cafe and we wanted to follow that,” he said. “We wanted to make this for everybody. I think we succeeded and we bring all sorts of people to the cafe that may have never experienced [Mill Creek MetroParks] before.”

The vision of Garden Cafe by Kravitz shifted as the cafe reopened last week for the first time in more than a year. Now, Garden Cafe is utilizing more technology to ensure a more efficient guest experience.

“We’ve almost reinvented the cafe,” Kravitz said. “We’re one of the first in the area to offer when you go to your table, you can scan a QR code and actually order at your table, and we’ll bring the food out to you”

If customers prefer a server to take their order instead of using the QR code, Garden Cafe by Kravitz servers are equipped with handheld electronic devices to take orders and credit card payments while at the table.

According to Kravitz, these devices have both cut down on wait time and have helped speed up service because the orders go directly to the kitchen once they’re placed at the table.

Garden Cafe by Kravtiz serves starters, soups, salads and sandwiches. Diners can feast on mango shrimp salad, reuben sandwiches and Italian and southwest chicken wraps. Additionally, the eatery offers vegetarian options like spinning bowl salad, portabella sandwich and grilled cheese. Kravitz has future plans to expand the cafe’s menu to meet more dietary and allergen requirements.

Reopening the cafe did not come without challenges, Kravitz told Mahoning Matters, including staffing issues.

“Trying to get a crew together is very very difficult. You know, people aren’t trying to work. It’s real. You put out a help wanted ad and you’ll get 20 applications where people respond, and of those 20 people maybe three will come in for an interview and of those three maybe one will actually come back [to work].”

Through the adversity, Kravitz remains focused on the positives, such as the new technology and government programs that have aided small businesses during the pandemic.

“I think that [our] embrace of technology is really laying the groundwork for the future,” Kravitz said.

“The government has played a really, really big role in allowing a lot of small businesses to stay in business,” he added. “I don’t think we’d be in business right now if it wasn’t for some of the government programs …we really appreciate it.”

For more information or to plan an excursion to the Garden Cafe by Kravitz, visit their Facebook pagetheir website or call 330-779-8201.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com