Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Donation will help preserve park forever

Tens of thousands of readers must have perused The Vindicator’s Nov. 23 front-page story detailing the importance of endowments that help fund noteworthy Mill Creek MetroParks icons, assisting in their upkeep and even their existence.

“Icons abound while driving through Mill Creek MetroParks,” read the lead of the story, written by Vindicator reporter Ashley Fox. It went on to outline some recognizable examples: the lily pond, the covered bridge at Lanterman’s Mill and the silver suspension bridge, also known as the Cinderella Bridge.

To help give more than 15 so-called icons around the park official names, Chris Litton, development director, had helped organize an endowment program.

“Endowments can take in any dollar amount,” Litton said in the story. “That dollar amount stays whole in perpetuity.”

Large-dollar gifts, such as $250,000 and above, even can bring naming opportunities.

These dollars go into a general endowment fund, which would finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, Litton said in the story.

The article probably was interesting and informative for many readers who saw it. But apparently it resonated with one area resident a bit more than it did with many others.

Explaining the idea originated from The Vindicator story, a Mahoning Valley resident last week wrote a check for $750,000. The funds will go into a general endowment fund and help finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, first gifted to the park in 1968 and opened as headquarters for nature education in 1974. The gift is unrestricted, so it can be used for any purpose.

A portion of the funding will help complete the financing for the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project, a revitalization project with a price tag of some $3.5 million. The rest will be disbursed where necessary, such as being set aside in the endowment fund, which will help maintain and preserve areas throughout the park.

“The gift does allow us to complete the Ford Nature project,” Litton said, noting now the project will be financially sound one year ahead of schedule.

Endowments, Litton explained, are growing in popularity because the money stays whole and will always be there to take care of the park.

Indeed we salute any donor who gives from the heart because he / she understands the value of preserving the park and its beauty in perpetuity. This particular donation is especially noteworthy, however. That’s because the donor didn’t do it for recognition or for posterity.

We know this because the donor has been adamant about remaining anonymous.

That tells us the donor did it because he or she believes maintaining Mill Creek Park and the Ford Nature Center is the right thing to do.

For that, we salute the anonymous donor. While his or her name shall remain a secret, the good deed must not. Rather, it should be celebrated and enjoyed by countless park and nature center visitors for many, many years to come.

Full article at vindy.com

Anonymous donor gifts Mill Creek MetroParks $750K

Mill Creek MetroParks has received what’s being called a “transformational” gift.

An anonymous Mahoning Valley donor has gifted the park $750,000. The gift is unrestricted, which means it is given for any purpose.

A portion of the funding will help complete the financing for the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project, a revitalization project with a price tag of $3.5 million.

“The donor has wished to remain anonymous to this point. Although we do anticipate in the future some sort of acknowledgment to the family but at this point, they would like to remain anonymous,” said Aaron Young, executive director of Mill Creek MetroParks.

Young says with this donation, park users should look forward to continued improvement to roads and trails throughout the MetroParks.

Full article at wkbn.com

Mill Creek Park Nature Center gets ‘transformational gift’

Mill Creek MetroParks has received what’s being called a “transformational” gift.

An anonymous Mahoning Valley donor has gifted the park $750,000, said Chris Litton, development director.

“It is transformational from the standpoint of what it allows us to do in 2021,” Litton said.

What prompted the large gift was a Nov. 23, 2020, article in The Vindicator, explaining an endowment program set up at the MetroParks by Litton. “It’s a story the public needed to know. It’s their park,” he said.

The donor prefers to stay behind the scenes.

Across the board, everyone at the park system is thankful for the gift.

“We are truly grateful for the generous contributions of those who truly appreciate and support the mission of the MetroParks and its impact on Mahoning County,” said Executive Director Aaron Young.

The donor’s financial planner reached out to the park, stating the person wished to make a donation to the MetroParks Foundation.

The gift is unrestricted, which means it is given for any purpose, Litton said.

A portion of the funding will help complete the financing for the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project, a revitalization project with a pricetag of some $3.5 million.

The rest will be disbursed where necessary, such as being set aside in the endowment fund, which will help maintain and preserve areas throughout the park.

“The gift does allow us to complete the Ford Nature project,” Litton said, noting that now the project will be financially sound one year ahead of schedule.

“We had budgeted taking in campaign funds throughout 2021 to fund that campaign,” which will continue, Litton said.

Any money generated above the project cost will alleviate taxpayers funding, Litton said.

“It’s a situation where we didn’t expect to be a year ahead of fundraising,” he said.

Usually, financial gifts to the park may result in naming opportunities. There are more than 15 “icons” around the park that do not have a family name attached to them, such as the popular silver suspension bridge, also known as the Cinderella Bridge.

Contributions to endowment programs, such as that at Mill Creek Park, stay whole in perpetuity.

Work on the stone mansion that is the nature center, which was built in 1913, is being completed in phases with an anticipated finish date in the spring or summer of 2022.

The house was donated to the park in 1968 and in 1974 opened as the headquarters for nature education.

Full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek Parks extend closures

Mill Creek MetroParks will extend its closures until at least mid-April 2021.

All previously scheduled programs, tours, events, lectures and indoor facility rentals are canceled until the park board’s April 12 meeting. In the event a registration fee or rental fee was paid, a full refund will be processed.

The closures include MetroParks Farm Education Building and Animal Barns, D.D. & Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center, Yellow Creek Lodge, Lanterman’s Mill, administrative office and all reservable pavilions, cabins and shelters.

The move was made in accordance with recommendations from the governor’s office, the Ohio Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control regarding the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees, volunteers and visitors.

Full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks extends cancellations, closures into April

Mill Creek MetroParks is extending the cancellations of all previously scheduled programs, tours, events, lectures and indoor facility rentals until a board meeting scheduled for April 12, 2021.

If a registration or rental fee was paid, a full refund will be processed.

The following Mill Creek MetroParks locations will remain closed:

  • MetroParks Farm Education Building and animal barns;
  • D.D. & Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center;
  • All reservable pavilions, cabins and shelters;
  • Yellow Creek Lodge;
  • Lanterman’s Mill;
  • Administration office.

Various outdoor locations will be 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 and all nature preserves and sanctuaries.

The MetroParks urges all visitors to continue following all guidelines from state and local health officials to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com

Mill Creek MetroParks extends some closures into April 2021

Mill Creek MetroParks has announced an extension of some cancellations and closures into April 2021.

According to the release, the decision to keep various buildings closed follows recommendations from the Governor’s Office, the Ohio Department of Public Health and the CDC.

The following MetroParks locations will be closed to the public through April 12, 2021:

  • MetroParks Farm Education Building and Animal Barns
  • D.D. & Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center
  • All Reservable Pavilions, Cabins & Shelters
  • Yellow Creek Lodge
  • Lanterman’s Mill
  • Administration Office

Other outdoor locations will remain open for use including Mill Creek Park, Fellows Riverside Gardens, Sebring Woods, MetroParks Bikeway, Mill Creek Golf Course, Wick Par-3, MetroParks Farm Disc Golf Course, and all nature preserves and sanctuaries.

Mill Creek MetroParks says visitors should follow guidelines from state and local health officials including staying home if sick, staying six feet apart from others, and avoiding congregating in large groups.

Full article at wfmj.com

Mill Creek sled hill keeps kids busy

A thin layer of snow was all kids needed for some sled riding at Mill Creek Park on Wednesday.

Our cameras found several families enjoying the cool temperatures.

A lot of the kids we talked to said they liked to go fast.

“The conditions, they are pretty rocky. There are so many divots in the ground and then there’s snow, which speeds you up so you go flying right over those divots,” said 9-year-old Abby Hagler.

The kids said the hill was a little bit muddy, too, but they like to get out to sled a couple of times every year.

Right now, the sled riding hill is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the lights are turned on at dusk.

Full article at wkbn.com

Endowments keep park going

Icons abound while driving through Mill Creek MetroParks.

Some examples: the lily pond, the covered bridge at Lanterman’s Mill and the silver suspension bridge, also known as the Cinderella Bridge.

To help give more than 15 so-called icons around the park official names, Chris Litton, development director, has helped organize an endowment program.

“Endowments can take in any dollar amount,” Litton said. “That dollar amount stays whole in perpetuity.”

Large-dollar gifts, such as $250,000 and above, are when naming opportunities become available.

Funding from the landmarks will go into a general endowment fund, which would finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, Litton said.

About $300,000 remains in the center’s campaign balance.

Over the last several months, Litton has met with more than 120 financial planners and estate planners to give an overview of what people can do with stocks, property and insurance.

Leaving or making a gift to an endowment isn’t designated for weathy people, Litton said. “It could be just about anything.”

In the last year, four transfers of property bequests have taken place, Litton said.

One of those who has donated is Canfield resident Mike Senchak, president and chief executive officer of the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation.

Senchak explained that when it came time for the foundation to give money back to the community, it was decided that for the health and wellness aspect, the golf courses in Mill Creek would receive $300,000 for an endowment.

“We just felt that the golf courses … were a great place for exercise,” Senchak said.

Additionally, the golf courses are great for folks to spend time together, as well as teach children and grandchildren the game, such as what he’s been doing with his 9-year-old granddaughter.

Growing up on the West Side of Youngstown, Senchak said the park has held a special place for him as he used to ice skate on Lake Glacier, then took his children and now his granddaughter there for various activities.

The endowment is in perpetuity, which means the amount of money or value will stay at that amount forever.

Litton said that is a fact that resonates with those who give to the park.

“People we’ve talked with who have contributed over the last three years since we’ve launched the fund appreciate that the money stays whole and will always be there to take care of the park,” Litton said.

A once-popular gifting option was memorial benches, Litton said. The lifespan of a bench, however, is about 20 years.

Due to the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining memorial benches, the park discontinued the program in 2018.

For Senchak and his team at the foundation, being able to give back to the park is a great feeling.

“It’s a wonderful feeling because you now you are helping somebody else,” Senchak said, adding: “The Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation endowment for the golf course will be around forever.”

Naming rights for grabs

$750,000

Mill Creek Preserve

Mill Creek Sanctuary

Covered Bridge at Lanterman’s Mill

$500,000

East Newport hike and bike

East Cohasset hike and bike

Lake Glacier boathouse

$250,000

Long mall — Fellows Riverside

North Terrace — Fellows Riverside

South Terrace — Fellow Riverside

Slippery Rock Pavilion

Bears Den Cabin

Birch Hill Cabin

Wall Garden

Yellow Creek Lodge

Full article at vindy.com

$100K donation, new kayak racks coming to Mill Creek MetroParks

The Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners met Monday night and learned there’s some money coming for a new building. They also had some good news for kayakers.

The board approved a request from executive director Aaron Young to accept a $100,000 donation from Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens for the future construction of an outdoor education building in the family garden at Fellows.

The money is the last portion needed to get the building constructed. The total cost of the project is over $300,000. The rest of the money is in place.

It’s hoped construction can begin in the spring and the building finished sometime next summer.

It’ll be built for year-round use and will be used for many purposes including gardening classes and other programs.

The board also learned that a second set of kayak racks have been added to Lake Glacier, which will hold 16 kayaks. The other set is at Lake Newport, which holds 40 kayaks.

Recreation director Brian Tolnar says the Newport racks have a waiting list to rent spaces, adding that the pandemic has increased the number of people kayaking on the park’s lakes.

The racks rent for $25 for a season or $35 for two racks.

Full article at wkbn.com

If you haven’t already, stop and take some time to enjoy the Valley’s fall foliage

If you’ve even glanced out your window, you’ve been hit with the striking colors of the leaves this fall. Our weather team has shown you that peak fall foliage is not far off.

Lynn Zocolo, an educator at Mill Creek Park who knows all about the leaves changing, talks about what causes them to change and which trees bring the brightest colors.

There’s one thing we always have to look forward to in the fall, even in the time of COVID-19: the leaves changing.

“They’re looking beautiful but we’re probably going to have to start raking soon,” Zocolo said.

Right now, we’re in what’s called “near peak,” where we have a lot of pops of color, but some of those green leaves are still hanging on.

Peak reds, yellows and oranges are just a few days away.

“So I’m betting by this weekend, beginning of next, we’re gonna be in peak foliage color,” Zocolo said.

Chlorophyll is what makes the leaves green. When fall rolls around, the chlorophyll goes away, and trees store moisture and energy in their trunks and branches.

“Shorter days, cooler nights. The trees know it’s time to shut off the leaves, time to get rid of them, time to save energy for winter,” Zocolo said.

Are the trees brighter than last year?

“It was a little bit more brown last year and I think it was a little bit later last year as well, but when you average out the hot summer days we had and the amount of rainfall we had, it was the perfect recipe for this beautiful fall,” Zocolo said.

Some of the most vibrant trees are the sugar maple, dogwood and sassafras.

Right now, people are taking advantage of the warm weather and Mill Creek Park being right outside their door.

“I think a lot of people have rediscovered the park and rediscovered just how much it means to the Valley as a whole,” Zocolo said.

But enjoy it now because peak foliage only lasts about a week, then the leaves fall into your yard and the trees are left bare.

“Get outside even if it’s just for a short walk in the park or your yard and look up, look down, look all around and just enjoy the season, it’s spectacular,” Zocolo said.

Full article at wkbn.com