Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Mill Creek MetroParks Offers Alternative Activities During COVID-19

As summer transitions to fall, some Youngstown State University students still struggle to find activities amidst the coronavirus pandemic. However, socially distanced activities are in plain sight, just 10 minutes away from campus.

Lynn Zocolo, an educator at Mill Creek MetroParks, believes the park has a lot to offer students to decompress from everyday stress.

“I think it becomes a way to connect with nature and to get our visitors introduced to the plant collections, agriculture education and a piece of history,” Zocolo said.

Mill Creek MetroParks, established in 1891 by Youngstown-based lawyer Volney Rogers, offers visitors access to 4,500 acres of nature, activities and Youngstown history, such as Lanterman’s Mill.

“The mill has become an iconic treasure in the park and valley. It is the third mill on that site,” Zocolo said.

The first mill was built and operated from 1789 to 1823. It was replaced in 1825 by a mill with a better frame structure. But less than 20 years later, in 1843, a flood destroyed the second mill. The third mill was built in 1845.

“German Lanterman and Samuel Kimberly replaced the mill but built it up higher to avoid the floodplain, as well as build the foundation into the bedrock,” she said.

The Ward and Florence Beecher Foundations helped restore the mill in 1982. It is still used today to grind buckwheat, wheat and corn for the community.

Additional areas of the park include:

  • Fellows Riverside Garden
  • James L. Wick, Jr. Recreation Area
  • Trails
  • Bikeways
  • Lakes, ponds and more

Mill Creek MetroParks typically hosts a variety of events within the park. However, these events were canceled due to COVID-19.

Chris Bundy, a recreation manager in the James L. Wick, Jr. Recreation Area, believes students can still make the most of the recreation activities that are currently open. These include two golf courses, a batting cage, tennis, pickleball and sand volleyball courts, as well as baseball and soccer fields.

The MetroParks Farm recently added a disk golf course in Canfield to the recreation area.

“I would say stop into the Wick Recreation area, we have a lot to offer up here,” Bundy said.

Mill Creek took extensive precautions to ensure these activities follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“If you were to rent one of our golf clubs or baseball helmets or bats, we sanitize them after every use,” he said.

In their free time, some YSU students took advantage of what the park offers.

Derek Gustovich, a master student in the athletic training program, goes to Mill Creek MetroParks four to five times a week. He tries to relax at the park by only packing light hiking gear, and he explores trails daily for a couple of hours.

“I like nature a lot, so I take the trails and go hiking. Since everything is closed, it’s a place you can go out and do something. I would do a hike and if I’m not pressed for time I would stop by the Lily Pond to relax,” Gustovich said.

Chaste Chapman, a first-year graduate student in the student affairs counseling program, goes two to three times a week. During quarantine, Chapman picked up photography as a hobby while walking alongside Lanterman’s Mill.

“I was out with my sister, and I told her I never went to the park; she has many times. So I figured, why not go? All of the skills that I didn’t have, I decided to work on, and am still working on,” Chapman said.

Zocolo looks forward to the park fully reopening after COVID-19.

“Hopefully, 2021will bring new park adventures for all of us, and we can get all of our facilities back open and running,” Zocolo said.

Full article at thejambar.com

Go ahead and give disc golf a good throw

With the rise of online schooling and social media apps to talk to friends, my husband and I have been facing a conundrum related to our kids and screen time. While schooling and communicating are necessary for them, there are other times they are just playing games or watching videos.

Our children have the entire digital world available to them at any given time, if we allow it. In a digital black hole, minutes add up into hours quickly and the accumulated time looking at screens is not beneficial for their development. Our solution is to put parameters in place and to spend time outdoors as a family.

Naturally, we’ve done our favorite things like hiking, biking, and camping. However, we made a point to try new things as well. One activity we found enjoyable for our whole family is disc golf. Our most recent trip was close to home at the Mill Creek MetroPark farm in Canfield.

Instead of the digital world at their fingertips, they had a variety of polypropylene golf discs resting in their hands. The game has similar rules to traditional golf; most importantly, the lowest score wins.

We started out at the tees which were color-coded red and green. Red was slightly farther away making it more difficult. I was excited to see that we could make accommodations for the age and ability differences in our family. The object is to get the disc to the target in the least amount of throws.

When we started the first hole, I could see a metal pole with an attached basket in the distance. I pictured us leisurely enjoying the beautiful landscape and slowly progressing along the course. While I attempted to watch butterflies in the wildflowers, my boys turned our game into an interesting combination of footrace and disc golf. It appeared to matter to them who got the lowest score the fastest.

In contrast, most people relish the time spent at each hole making calculated throws. I didn’t mind the fast pace as long as they were enjoying themselves outside instead of looking at a screen. The course progressed around the lake and into the woods. The change in landscape made the game technically challenging and interesting at the same time.

Mill Creek MetroPark Farm created two courses in 2019 with funding from an ODNR grant. The front course we played on was the beginner course. Each hole is a par 3 and ideal for learning how to play disc golf. The walk to the championship course is longer past the hike and bike trail.

The 18 hole championship course is a more challenging par 60 course that covers 6,000 feet. This course also has a variety of landscapes with the majority of it taking place in a wooded area. I enjoyed that we were able to catch glimpses of the MetroPark Farm animals and crops as we walked along toward the course.

Both courses contain pond obstacles that made certain holes more difficult and in my opinion more beautiful. While I thought they were aesthetically pleasing, I really didn’t want to go into a lake to retrieve a disc. Luckily, we were able to avoid the ponds and the penalty point for going out of bounds.

My luck did eventually run out when I was stung by a ground bee. Next time, I will replace my sandals with sneakers.

An added appeal for us was that the course is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk. Directions, maps, and score cards are provided by the park to use on the course but not discs. We found our discs at a variety of sources such as garage sales, thrift stores and online vendors. Like traditional golf, different discs are designed to be used throughout the game for varying lengths such as distance drivers, fairway drivers, midrangers and putters. The midrange disc seems to be the best fit for beginners wanting to purchase just one disc. It is less technical and comfortable to hold for the beginner.

Disc golf is growing in popularity and new courses are popping up across the country. We also played at Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County this summer. I would much rather see my kids’ eyes searching across the meadow for their discs instead of the creepy stare that has become synonymous with 2020.

With 6,000 feet to cover in the game, there’s social distancing built into the activity. Go ahead, give it a good throw.

Full article at farmanddairy.com

Vision for Ford Nature Center coming to life

Peering into the Ford Nature Center, it doesn’t look the way patrons may remember.

Exposed wood and brick, with floorways covered with dust, are now the norm as it undergoes redevelopment.

“We’re just excited about it. It’s been a really fast spring and summer as far as work here,” said Chris Litton, director of development for Mill Creek MetroParks.

Asbestos abatement began in February with exterior work starting in June.

On Thursday, Justin Shrader, a laborer with United Contractors Inc. of Brookfield Township, was cutting nails that hold floor joists in the basement of the stone mansion, which was built in 1913.

Shrader explained that new support beams will be installed.

A stage house will be repurposed from storage into an education building with a classroom.

Also included in the plans are smaller educational spaces, a rooftop garden, exhibits and a gift shop.

The interior work should be done in about a year.

“This time next year we should be wrapping up and putting the finishing touches on the inside,” Litton said.

Work is being completed in phases for the $3 million Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project.

Funds are still being raised, Litton said.

Most of the money generated has come from more than 130 “everyday donors,” while larger donations from the Ward Beecher family, Finnegan family and Youngstown Foundation have been gifted to help the project.

Much of the money for the redevelopment was raised at once, and then things plateaued prior to work starting.

As work has progressed, interest in the project has been sparked again, Litton said.

Donors have been inquiring about how the process is moving along, he said.

A collection of photos taken by administration and crews is updated regularly on the park website, millcreekmetroparks.org. Scroll down to “Ford Nature Center.”

Donated to the park in 1968, the Ford Nature Center opened as the headquarters for nature education in 1974.

Since the beginning of work this year, programs normally held at the center have been shifted elsewhere in the park district, while equipment, animals and paperwork have been placed at off-site locations.

Full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks accepting applications for farm leases

Mill Creek MetroParks is accepting proposals for farming operations at the MetroParks Farm.

Proposals are due by noon Sept. 28. Copies of the required lease agreement forms can be acquired by contacting Aaron Young, executive director, at 330-702-3000 or aaron@millcreekmetroparks.org.

Submitted proposals must include the following:

  • A completed farm lease agreement; including proposed price per acre;
  • A copy of the required insurance certificates. (See lease agreement);
  • A copy of a current workers compensation certificate;
  • A completed statement of qualifications including farming education, experience, certifications, training and memberships;
  • A completed list of all farm equipment owned/leased by the submitting party;
  • A list of three references from property owners who have leased farming rights to the submitting party;
  • A list of all acreage to be farmed in addition to the MetroParks Farm during the same time period.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com

Improvements made at Mill Creek Park

Several improvements have been made at Mill Creek Park.

One is at the most visited site in the park, the Lily Pond.

The installation of a new restroom is now complete, which is a permanent building that can be used year-round.

The project was paid for by a grant through ODNR.

Work has also begun on the interior demo on the Ford Nature Center.

The parking lot at the Flats near the Cinderella Bridge is back open and the improvement project is now complete

Full article at wkbn.com

Want to farm at MetroParks? Now is your chance

Mill Creek MetroParks is accepting proposals for leasing the farming operations at the MetroParks Farm located in Canfield.  Anyone interested in submitting a proposal to lease the land should do so by September 28 by noon.

The current lease with Less and Less Farms is about to expire, and the leasing rights are available for those who submit a winning proposal.

Submitted proposals must include the following:

  • A completed farm lease agreement, including the proposed price per acre.
  • A copy of the required insurance certificates. (See lease agreement)
  • A copy of a current worker’s compensation certificate.
  • A completed statement of qualifications, including farming education, experience, certifications, training, and memberships.
  • A completed list of all farm equipment owned/leased by the submitting party.
  • A list of three (3) references from property owners who have leased farming rights to the submitting party.
  • A list of all acreage to be farmed in addition to the MetroParks Farm during the same time period.

Mill Creek MetroParks reserves the right to waive any and all informalities as part of the Farm Lease Proposal Review as the anticipated value does not fall under the parameters of the Ohio Revised Code competitive bidding requirements.

Copies of the required lease agreement forms can be acquired by contacting Aaron Young, Executive Director at 330-702-3000 or aaron@millcreekmetroparks.org.

Full article at wfmj.com

Mill Creek accepting proposals to lease land at MetroParks Farm

Mill Creek MetroParks is accepting proposals to farm its land in Canfield.

It is 140 acres located around the MetroParks’ offices on Route 46, across from the fairgrounds.

The current lease with Less and Less Farms expires this year.

Executive Director Aaron Young says other farmers have expressed interest in the lease, so they decided to seek other proposals. They’re due by noon on Sept. 28.

Proposals must include:

  • A completed farm lease agreement, including proposed price per acre
  • A copy of the required insurance certificates (see lease agreement)
  • A copy of a current worker’s compensation certificate
  • A completed statement of qualifications, including farming education, experience, certifications, training and memberships
  • A completed list of all farm equipment owned/leased by the submitting party
  • A list of three references from property owners who have leased farming rights to the submitting party
  • A list of all acreage to be farmed in addition to the MetroParks Farm during the same time period

For a copy of the required lease agreement form, contact Young at 330-702-3000 or aaron@millcreekmetroparks.org.

Full article at wkbn.com

Mill Creek Park police issuing out citations for violators of ‘road closed’ barriers

A man and his two friends were cited for walking through a “road closed” barrier in Mill Creek Park on Sunday.

Youngstown’s Brett Wilson said they were walking through the southern barrier of the closed stretch of Mill Creek Park’s E. Newport Drive. It came with a $150 fine — $70 in court costs.

“I do think the ticket was unfair because clearly there is an opening for pedestrians or bicyclists. There’s plenty of them going through there,” Wilson said.

Back at the spot Tuesday afternoon, there was an opening to pass through with the sign prohibiting pedestrians and bicycles lying on the ground. Mill Creek Park Police Chief Jim Willock had to put the sign and some of the barriers back up.

“Yeah, they’ve taken the signs down and they’ve taken the barricades down,” Chief Willock said.

People have been using the prohibited area, not listening to police or the signs.

The safety issue is a road that’s slowly collapsing. What started as a small pothole in April has grown to 10 times that, and continues to grow. It looks like the aftermath of an earthquake.

“Right now, while it may look safe, in two days, it may not be safe. If someone comes down through here on a bike or something like that, they may become injured,” Chief Willock said.

At the northern barrier, there are road closed signs but nothing saying pedestrians and bicyclists are prohibited.

“Aside from that, there probably should be something that says violators will be prosecuted or fined because we weren’t warned at all,” Wilson said.

Wilson also said he might take the issue to the courts in Boardman to fight the citation.

Chief Willock says they spent several weeks warning people.

“So we’ve started issuing some citations and apparently we’ve got people’s attention and that’s getting the desired effect for their safety,” Chief Willock said.

A Mill Creek official says it is unlikely the road will be repaired this year.

Full article at wkbn.com

Park users asked to respect road closures

Mill Creek MetroParks leadership is asking patrons to follow road or trail closures — not because they simply say so, but because it’s a matter of safety.

“There’s reasons why there are certain places in certain parts you can’t be at,” James Willock, the park district’s police chief, said.

One area in particular that people seem to ignore the warnings is on East Newport Drive, where the road is closed to all traffic due to a significant slope toward the lake.

Once park maintenance crews observed asphalt cracking earlier this year, they took the issue to the planning department for further consideration.

The road has been closed all summer, said MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young, because an engineering firm is measuring the rate at which the slope is growing.

Samer Awadallah, a project engineer with CT Consultants, explained that the company hired the structural engineering firm SME of the Columbus area to investigate what is causing the slope.

“They went to the site and found it appears to be continuous movement,” Awadallah said.

SME drilled to bedrock, installing a device to monitor the shifting over a period of time.

As the firm continues to study what is causing the road’s sloping behavior, Awadallah said a recommendation for a solution will be presented to the park administration, which would include cost and a timeline of when work can be completed — something Young is hopeful can be done in 2021.

When the cracks in the pavement first were noticed, Awadallah and Young said they measured just about 4 inches, and as of right now the slope at its steepest is just over 4 feet, Young said.

Awadallah said that previously, the park replaced the pavement when cracking in the area appeared, but “it did not work out,” adding: “It’s more critical.”

Also critical is signage at the road closure, and people staying away from the area.

“It’s really important staying away from there. … It’s not stable. Anything that’s not stable you should not be right by it. As much as you can, stay away from it,” Awadallah said.

There are signs that announce the closure. Earlier in the season, there was more of a warning sign, but Willock said someone took it.

“There was one (sign) on each end,” he said.

Other closures in the park system also are experiencing people not following the notices.

The Canfield bikeway was closed between state Route 446 and Herbert Road as it saw repairs starting Aug. 10, with walkers and bicyclists moving barricades and signs to walk through the construction site.

That poses a safety hazard to the park patrons, Young said, as well as to the construction workers who also have to keep an eye out for others when the area is closed.

In the last two months, Willock said people have moved barricades at the area known as “the flats” for ongoing improvement projects that closed the section for parking.

“We had fresh paint, fresh concrete… People move (the barricades) and go right in there” to park their vehicles, he said.

As a result one morning, Willock said the crews had to wait until the people came back to their cars and left, which pushed the work back a day.

To help with the issue of people going beyond closure signs, Willock said he’s had to take his already smaller staff of five to six officers to sit for hours at places such as East Newport Drive, when they should be checking other parts of the county that have satellite parks.

Besides areas being closed for safety and scheduling, if a person falls or gets injured, it might take awhile before emergency personnel are notified and make it to the scene, Willock said, especially as is the case on Newport.

“It’s a dangerous area. That area could fly downhill any time,” he said.


Full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek Park extends cancellations, closures into 2021

In support of the recommendations from the Governor’s office, the Ohio Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control, Mill Creek Park is extending the cancellations of all previously scheduled programs, tours, events, lectures and indoor facility rental until the January 2021 board meeting scheduled for January 11, 2021.

The extended cancellations and closures is in regard to the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees, volunteers and visitors.

In the event a registration fee or rental fee was paid, a full refund will be processed.

The following Mill Creek MetroParks locations will be closed to the public through January 11,2021:

  • MetroParks Farm Education Building and Animal Barns (seasonal)
  • D.D. & Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center
  • All Reservable Pavilions, Cabins & Shelters
  • Yellow Creek Lodge
  • Lanterman’s Mill (seasonal)
  • Administration Office
  • Wet Playground at Wick Recreation Area and Spray Basin at Scholl Recreation Area (seasonal)
  • Lake Newport & Lake Glacier Boathouses (seasonal)

Various Mill Creek MetroParks outdoor locations will remain open and available for use, including:

  • Mill Creek Park
  • Fellows Riverside Gardens
  • Sebring Woods
  • The MetroParks Bikeway
  • Mill Creek Golf Course (seasonal)
  • Wick Par-3 (seasonal
  • MetroParks Farm Disc Golf Course
  • All Nature Preserves and Sanctuaries

The MetroParks urges all visitors to continue following all guidelines from state and local health officials, such as staying home if sick or exhibiting symptoms, maintaining at least six feet apart from other visitors, avoiding congregating in large groups and bypass busy areas, practicing good hygiene by washing hands often and carrying hand sanitizer, as well as suggesting non-use of items such as handrails, park benches and other areas frequently touched to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Full article at wkbn.com