Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

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

$1 million donated to Mill Creek MetroParks

The Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation announced Friday that a one million dollar gift was donated to the MetroParks. The donation was made to the foundation’s Benefactor’s Trust by Brandon J. Kovach.

The Trust supports the care, preservation and enhancement of some of the landmarks within the MetroParks.

According to the announcement, Kovach will be name as the Benefactor of the Lily Pond in Mill Creek Park.

“The Lily Pond has been a favorite destination for Valley residents since 1896. This generous investment will provide long-term support to ensure that locations like the Lily Pond will continue to be a place for visitors to experience the beauty and wonder of the natural world for generations to come,” said Chris Litton, Mill Creek MetroParks Director of Development. “We are extremely grateful to Mr. Kovach for his support and advocacy of the MetroParks.”

The MetroPark’s foundation was created in 1980, and it advances the its mission through fund development.

Full article at wkbn.com

MetroParks will have to rebid warming house work

The dramatic increase in cost of building materials and transportation seen across the country apparently explains why the Mill Creek MetroParks will have to rebid the project to renovate the former warming house at the Wick Recreation Area.

On Monday night, the MetroParks had to reject all of the bids offered for the project because they all exceeded the engineer’s estimate by at least 10 percent, said Justin Rogers, planning and operations director for the MetroParks.

The cost estimates were generated a couple of months ago, but construction materials and transportation have continued to climb since then, Rogers said. The MetroParks board is required by law to reject bids if they exceed estimates by more than 10 percent, he said.

The MetroParks staff will try to rebid as soon as possible but also discuss what type of adjustments other public bodies have made to overcome this issue, Rogers said.

Ideally, the project still will be complete by the beginning of 2022, he said.

The warming house is located next to the new Dek hockey rink and was used for about the past 20 years as a maintenance facility after the former ice rink was closed around 2002. The building was used by people to warm up while using the ice rink and other winter attractions.

After a $770,000 renovation, the warming house will be used as a public recreation center / banquet and office facility. Rogers said the 4,000-square-foot bulding will contain concessions, a retail space and upgraded restrooms. People will be able to buy apparel for tennis, golf, sand volleyball and Dek hockey.

It also will have new finishes and a brighter look.

“Making it more inviting aesthetically and certainly its functionality is going to bring back the promise it once was when it was the warming house,” Rogers said.

Full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek warming house to convert to rec center

Among the fun things to do in the Wick Recreation Area off McCollum Road in the Mill Creek MetroParks, people would probably list as their favorites walking, using the wet and dry playgrounds, tennis, baseball and soccer areas, batting cages and Par-3 golf.

But next to the colorful Dek hockey rink is a dark, generally ignored building people still call the “warming house” or ice-rink building.

It played a key role when the Wick Recreation Area’s ice rink was next door, providing a fireplace and spot to warm up and get a hot drink.

The ice rink closed around 2002, and the building was converted into a storage space for grass cutting and other equipment.

In 2018, the MetroParks built the Dek hockey rink over the former ice rink, providing the public with a space to play a variation of ice hockey in which the game is played using a ball. Other sports also are played there, including soccer and field hockey.

The MetroParks’ master plan, however, targeted the warming house to be a public recreation center.

The park district went out to bid this month to have a contractor brighten up the building and make other aesthetic and functional changes to the 4,000 square foot structure to turn it into a banquet facility, offices, restrooms and meeting place.

Examples of ways the meeting space might be used for the public is for signups for recreational sports leagues, noted Justin Rogers, planning and operations director for the MetroParks.

The MetroParks built a new storage and maintenance building last year below the Morley Performing Arts Pavilion and is now using it.

The cost to renovate the warming house is $775,000, and the MetroParks hopes to award a contract at the May 10 meeting.

“We’re creating more of a public facility that supports all of the recreational and programatic uses at Wick Recreation Area and provides new opportunities for recreation and rentals,” Rogers said of the former warming house.

“We’re creating a banquet facility, a larger rentable space, improved concessions, a retail space, upgraded restrooms. We will have equipment and apparel for tennis, golf and sand volleyball and Dek hockey, similar to what you would have at the pro shop at our golf course but on a smaller scale,” he said. Mill Creek has two 18-hole golf courses.

“Our recreation department offices will be located in this building and some improved site work, new pedestrian access and landscaping,” he said.

It will have all new utilities, all new finishes inside and a brighter look.

“It will not get bigger. There is a small section for some restrooms, but the site plan is pretty much staying the same,” he said. “This will open it up to four season, year-round use for the public,” Rogers said.

The upgrades should tie the former warming house back into the fun activities that surround the building.

“It’s kind of prime real estate,” Rogers said of the building. “It’s right there and has been completely underutilized. Making it more inviting aesthetically and certainly its functionality is going to bring back the promise it once was when it was the warming house,” he said.

Full article at vindy.com

Springtime in Youngstown

Many places within Mill Creek MetroParks reopened this week, as activities are being phased in with virus safety protocols.

Aligning with national, state and local health orders, all outdoor-based recreation facilities, education programs, recreation leagues and events are now open.

“We’ve been monitoring our potential reopening for some time,” MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young said, adding the status of vaccinations has been taken into consideration as park administration decided how to reopen the park.

The next round of openings will take place May 1, when all open-air shelters open for reservations.

On May 7, all indoor-related rental facilities, as well as indoor-based education and recreation programs and events, will open. These locations are the MetroParks Farm Education Building, D.D. & Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center, Yellow Creek Lodge, the administration office and Lanterman’s Mill.


On April 1, the North Course at Mill Creek Golf Course reopened, with the South Course following on April 5.

Also at the start of April, the James L. Wick Jr. Recreation Par-3 Golf Course and batting cages in Youngstown opened, along with tennis courts and sand volleyball courts at the Wick Recreation Area.

The phased approach this year was staggered between indoor and outdoor activities, Young said.

Over the course of the last year, many outdoor activities have continued with varying guidelines, while many indoor activities have been canceled.

“We thought if that’s what the governor’s orders are outlined and structured on, and the department of health is recommending outdoor activity is OK, then a systematic reopening plan would take place,” Young said.


Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, outdoor use of the park system has “skyrocketed,” Young said, carrying into 2021.

“Our evaluation of what we think is the best approach, which is the phased approach, is people are outside. Let’s take a look at our outdoor recreational facilities and then also some of the open-air pavilions,” Young said.

Last year, any reservable and rental property in the park was closed due to the pandemic, as well as any indoor or outdoor facilities. Trails were left open.

“We thought it was best to address an outdoor versus an indoor (facility) right away,” Young said.

Normal schedules of pavilions typically open on May 1, so the park is carrying on pre-pandemic routines handling reservations.

As park facilities open, it is important that people renting the spaces remember they are responsible for their guests. Still, law enforcement will be around patroling as normal.

Rental procedures and program information can be found at reservations.millcreekmetroparks.org .


Full article at vindy.com