Mill Creek Park hopes to enhance visitor experience with improvement projects

Four years ago, voters in Mahoning County agreed to provide a million dollars a year to Mill Creek MetroParks for capital improvements. A 15-year plan was started in 2017 and the third year is just about over.

On Tuesday afternoon at Mill Creek South, crews were doing drainage work around the 17th green — part of $300,000 of drainage work done this year on 29 of the golf course greens.

“Last year, we did the bunker restoration at the golf course,” said Mill Creek MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young. “This year, we’re finishing greens drainage.”

Repairing the golf course greens was one of 13 projects completed, totaling $1.75 million.

“The improvements have been well needed and well-received,” Young said.

Some of the improvements can be seen at the MetroParks offices and farm in Canfield, where the parking lot has been paved, new signs in what will now be the MetroParks style have been put up and a new $50,000 restroom.

Another restroom facility just like it was built at the Wick Recreation area this year. Over the next 10 to 15 years, the plan is to replace all of the restrooms in the park system.

“Quite frankly, if we had the resources, you could argue that they all need replaced right now. We already know that,” Young said.

One of this year’s major construction projects was around Lanterman’s Mill — one of the park’s top attractions.

The entire corner leading to the mill was reconfigured. The area around the mill and Canfield Road has been redone, as has the road that connects the mill with the Silver Bridge.

Like all of the restrooms, all of the roads and parking lots will eventually be redone.

“Everybody likes smooth roads, everybody likes a clear, delineated parking lot and everybody likes a nice restroom experience,” Young said. “You’re ahead of the game if you can provide those base-level amenities.”

The plan next year behind the Morely Pavilion in the Wick Recreation area is to build a new $500,000 maintenance building, which will open up the warming cabin for public use.

In 2020, work on renovating the Ford Nature Center will begin — 90% of the money is in place.

“Anything and everything that the park does needs some level of improvement, and we’re going to try to address as much as we can with the resources that are available,” Young said.

Fifty percent of this year’s capital improvements budget was spent on roads, bridges, parking lots and restrooms. Fixing the old log cabin cost $25,000. Putting in a disc golf course cost another $25,000. About $115,000 was spent on Fellows Riverside Gardens and the East Hike and Bike Trail got $150,000 in improvements.

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