Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

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.

SPORTS

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.

OPEN AIR

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 .

afox@vindy.com

Full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks begins phased reopening

Mill Creek MetroParks is beginning a phased reopening of programs, events and facility rentals in accordance with local, state and federal orders and guidelines.

All outdoor recreation facilities, education programs, recreation leagues and/or events are open to the public beginning today. All open-air shelters will be open for reservations on their normal seasonal schedule beginning May 1, as well as visitation to the MetroParks Farm animal barns.

All indoor rental facilities, as well as all indoor education and recreation programs and events, will begin to open to the public May 7.

Visitors will be required to follow the current orders and recommended guidelines regarding mask wearing, social distancing and capacity limitations.

The following Mill Creek MetroParks locations will be open to the public effective May 7:

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

Various Mill Creek MetroParks outdoor locations are currently open and available for use, including Mill Creek Park, Fellows Riverside Gardens, Sebring Woods, The MetroParks Bikeway, Mill Creek Golf Course, Wick Par-3, MetroParks Farm Disc Golf Course and all nature preserves and sanctuaries.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com

Mill Creek MetroParks to begin phased reopening

Mill Creek MetroParks will begin a phased re-opening of programs, events, and facility rentals.

The reopening is happening in accordance with the orders from the Governor’s Office, the Ohio Department of Public Health, the Mahoning County District Board of Health, and the Center for Disease Control regarding the COVID-19 virus.

All outdoor-based recreation facilities, education programs, recreation leagues, and/or events will be opened to the public beginning Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

All open-air shelters will be open for reservations on their normal seasonal schedule beginning Saturday, May 1, 2021, as well as visitation to the MetroParks Farm Animal Barns.

All indoor-related rental facilities, as well as all indoor-based education & recreation programs and events, will begin to open to the public on Friday, May 7, 2021.

All visitors will be required to follow the current orders and recommended guidelines with regards to mask-wearing, social distancing, and capacity limitations.

The following Mill Creek MetroParks locations will be open to the public effective May 7, 2021:

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

Various Mill Creek MetroParks outdoor locations are currently open and available for use including Mill Creek Park, Fellows Riverside Gardens, Sebring Woods, The MetroParks Bikeway, Mill Creek Golf Course, Wick Par-3, 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, such as staying home if sick or exhibiting symptoms, maintaining at least six feet apart from other visitors, avoiding congregating in groups of more than 10 individuals, practicing good hygiene by washing hands often and carrying hand sanitizer, as well as avoiding items such as handrails, park benches, and other areas frequently touched to continue in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Full article at wfmj.com

Mill Creek MetroParks sets timetable for reopening of facilities

It was quiet Monday night outside the Davis Center at Mill Creek MetroParks. The displays in the gift shop are still covered with sheets. But come May 7, the Davis Center, along with Lanterman’s Mill and Pioneer Pavilion, will be open again for visitors.

The Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners Monday voted unanimously to reopen all facilities that have been closed because of COVID-19.

“All users will be required to follow the current orders of the governor,” said Executive Director Aaron Young.

Young said all rental agreements will include language stating that renters would be responsible for meeting any COVID requirements.

“I don’t want to become the mask police and the six-foot apart police. I already went through that,” Young said.

The boat docks at Lakes Newport and Glacier are permitted to reopen Tuesday, but they won’t be ready yet.

On May 1, the Slippery Rock Pavilion and the park’s other open-air shelters will be allowed to reopen.

As far as the concerts and Morely Pavilion, it was not mentioned specifically if they would or would not return, Young seemed more concerned about indoor events than those outdoors.

“I think it’s incumbent upon the person having the event to identify what their comfort level is before they solicit patrons or visitors for that event,” Young said.

As far as reopening the outdoor cafe at the Davis Center, which was being operated by Kravitz Deli, Young says that will likely happen eventually.

Here is a breakdown of the re-opening timeline:

  • It will be a phased-in reopening with everything open by May 7.
  • The reopening will begin Tuesday, April 13 – all outdoor-based recreational facilities, outdoor education programs, rec leagues and events will be allowed effective Tuesday.
  • May 1 – all open-air shelters can be used and visitation resumes at MetroParks Farm animal barns
  • May 7 – Indoor facilities reopen with limited restrictions, this includes those used for rentals, education and recreation, and the following: MetroParks Farm Education Building, D.D. & Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center, all reservable indoor cabins & shelters, Yellow Creek Lodge, Administration Office, Lanterman’s Mill

Full article at wkbn.com

Flowers near peak bloom at Daffodil Meadow in Mill Creek Park

If a trip to Daffodil Meadow in Mill Creek Park is part of your spring plans, you should know the blooms have pretty much peaked.

With a lot of sunshine and a little breeze, Daffodil Meadow Friday afternoon had a steady stream of visitors.

You’ll find it on the east side of Lake Newport.

The meadow was created in 1933 by the Garden Club of Youngstown, which paid $40 for 8,000 bulbs.

“You can’t help but smile when you get here. I call it ‘dancing with the daffodils’ because look how they’re moving and swaying in the wind. It truly does make your heart smile,” said Lynn Zocolo, with Mill Creek MetroParks.

Daffodil Meadow should remain in bloom until about May 1, after which you can visit Fellows Riverside Garden to check out the tulips.

Full article at wkbn.com

Mill Creek Golf Makes Progress on Improvements

Golfers were greeted with many improvements when the 18-hole Mill Creek Park North Course opened last month for the 2021 season.

The work is part of the park’s golf course comprehensive plan. So far, $982,000 has been spent through year six of this 10-year, $3 million project, says Brian Tolnar, Mill Creek MetroParks golf and recreation director. The South Course opened this month.

Completed improvements include replacement of benches on all 36 holes, reconstruction of 22 cart paths and the sealing of the remaining 14. Additional upgrades include improved irrigation on more than 325 acres – or 75% of the goal – to enhance turf quality and eliminate standing water, as well as the enhancement of 85 bunkers with new drainage, sod and sand to eliminate standing water and recapture the course’s original design.

Remaining projects include:

  • Replacement of three restrooms and seven shelters.
  • Restoration of streams, enhancement of wetlands and floodplains, and stormwater management work.
  • Completion of an indoor bar area at Hole 55 Bar and Grill, as well as lobby and restroom upgrades and the addition of a patio.
  • Construction of a barn to store carts and equipment.
  • Expanding the outdoor cart lot.

Funding is being sought for a learning center and practice area; an indoor player development center with three simulator bays, putting area, club fitting area and restrooms; and further parking lot and landscaping improvements.

“All of the recent improvements have been completed utilizing the MetroParks’ general fund as presented in the annual board-approved budget,” says Justin Rogers, planning and operations director for Mill Creek MetroParks. “No government grants were used.”

“As we move forward, we’ll attempt to identify and match available state and federal grants for improvement projects,” Rogers continues.

Money came from grants from the Donald Ross Society, financial assistance from the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation and American Junior Golf Association, Tolnar states. These golf course projects are part of an effort to preserve the history and ambiance of Mill Creek MetroParks.

“The goal is to make the place better than how we found it,” Tolnar says. “I think we’re slowly, slowly getting there, so it’s exciting.”

Mill Creek will continue to maintain pandemic-related safety protocols, including extra sanitation measures and eliminating common touch points such as golf ball washers and rakes in sand traps.

If golfers are uncomfortable being in the pro shop, they can pay for their round in advance, Tolnar says. A receipt is emailed to the customer, who must then check in with the starter on either course.

Profits at Mill Creek’s golf courses increased about 25 percent in 2020 despite being closed March and April because of the pandemic, Tolnar says. The usage of the par-3 course at the Wick Recreation Area doubled as well.

Mother Nature cooperated as well with less than 10 rainout days, Tolnar says.

“Our goal this year and throughout the next two years is player retention,” he says.

Pictured: Brian Tolnar standing at the sign introducing the Mill Creek Golf Course’s North Course prior to the opening in late March.

Road slope to be repaired in Mill Creek

Work on a road slope in Mill Creek Park will be underway in the coming weeks after the road has been closed for a year.

Park crews have been clearing the area to allow for repair work, Aaron Young, Mill Creek MetroParks executive director, said.

That project is out to bid, but park officials are anticipating slope correction to begin in early May.

A second project also is being bid, which will include repaving East Newport Drive from Crider’s Entrance to Kiwatha Road, Young said.

“Not only will the slope be addressed, but it will be new asphalt for the walkers and drivers,” Young said.

Preliminary estimated cost for the slope correction is $400,000, Young said, which would come from the capital improvement fund.

East Newport Drive has been closed to all traffic after a significant slope toward Lake Newport was discovered last year.

Park maintenance crews observed the cracking last year and went to the planning department.

Initially when the cracks were noticed, they measured about four inches. Now the cracks and slope can be measured in feet.

Engineering firm CT Consultants monitored the site and hired structural engineering firm SME of the Columbus area to also investigate what is causing the slope.

The upcoming work has aligned itself with a favorite springtime activity: the blooming of the flowers in Daffodil Meadow, located along East Newport Drive just south of the boat launch.

Park administration decided to allow access to the meadow area, while also changing the traffic pattern.

“We have shortened up the closure so people can get up to Daffodil Meadow,” Young said.

The slope is just north of the meadow.

Generally traffic is one-way along East Newport Drive, but the road has been restriped to allow two-way traffic so people can watch the flowers bloom.

“We wanted to allow park users to get to that area,” Young said.

Now, the closure is just north of the meadow parking area up to just south of the boat launch.

Park officials are asking that people heed signs and not go through the closed area.

“We don’t want to have to cite people. We are asking for voluntary compliance,” Randy Campana, chief of the park’s police department, said.

When construction starts, more law enforcement presence will be in the area, he said.

There haven’t been accidents, Young said, but it is more of a safety precaution.

Full article at vindy.com