MetroParks efforts bring in more than $2.4 million in private donations

Organized fundraising efforts have paid off in spades for Mill Creek MetroParks, according to a development update provided to the park board Monday.

MetroParks Development Director Chris Litton reported the MetroParks has brought in more than $2.4 million in private donations so far this year. That is substantially more than the previous annual totals of $17,334 in 2016, $106,325 in 2015 and $334,625 in 2014, according to figures Litton presented.

“We’ve really done quite a bit with a short period of time,” Litton said.

This year, the MetroParks launched an endowment drive and a capital campaign. To date, the park has raised more than $825,000 in endowments and $1 million in capital contributions, according to Litton.

Additionally, the MetroParks will get about $310,000 from the sale of a house on Clingan Road in Struthers that had been donated to the park system by local philanthropists Bruce and Nancy Beeghly. Those funds will help pay for a renovation of Ford Nature Center.

The park system this year has received more than $15,000 in memorial/tribute donations, and $285,000 from donors for specific projects, Litton reported.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young said. “We’re going to hope to end the year on a high note.”

In other business, the board set equipment and rental fees for the new dek hockey rink at Wick Recreation Area. Dek hockey is a version of ice hockey that is played on foot instead of skates.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation covered the majority of the $250,000 cost of installing the rink at the park’s former ice-skating area.

The rink is free to use if it has not been reserved. A 60-minute reservation costs $20 for Mahoning County residents and $30 for non-residents.

Hockey and lacrosse sticks will cost $2 to rent and there will be a $1 charge for a dek puck/ball.

The MetroParks also will offer dek leagues, with rates of $500 for adult teams and $50 for individual children.

In other business, the board passed a resolution related to the final phase of a project that will complete the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway. The project will extend the bikeway from Western Reserve Road to Washingtonville, where it will meet Columbiana County’s bike trail.

Young said the MetroParks is in the middle of the final phase and is now moving forward with purchasing vacant property along the trail’s planned route. He said he expects construction to begin in about a year.

The board authorized MetroParks staff to apply for a federal grant that would cover up to 80 percent of the estimated $200,000 cost of rehabilitating the Old Orchard Bridge on Chestnut Hill Drive.

Additionally, the board recognized members of the Mill Creek PGA Junior League, a youth golf program coached by Professional Golfers’ Association and Ladies Professional Golf Association professionals. The Mill Creek team, one of six in the local division, went undefeated this season.

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