Now run by Mill Creek MetroParks, master plan in the works for future of horse park

In early July, Mill Creek MetroParks commissioners decided park employees would now operate and maintain the Vickers Nature Preserve, ending 25 years of the preserve being run by a group known as the Buckeye Horse Park.

One month later, MetroParks administrators are already looking to the future and developing a master plan for Vickers.

Thursday afternoon at the Vickers Nature Preserve, located along Route 224 west, Brienna Donaldson and Houston Burbridge, both of Austintown, saddled up their horses for an afternoon ride.

“It’s a nice place. It’s close. It’s convenient,” Burbridge said.

“The trails could be marked a little bit better, they get confusing when you’re on them,” Donaldson said.

“Do we want to keep each and every component? Do we want to change it? Do we want to upgrade it? Do we want to renovate?” asked Steve Avery, director of planning and operations for Mill Creek MetroParks.

Avery is responsible for putting together the master plan for the Vickers Nature Preserve of the future. He already has several ideas.

“We have a pond… well, let’s let fishing in here — there’s a recreational use that we can have happen like that. And if we add a dock or a fishing pier, that actually improves accessibility,” he said.

Avery wants new restrooms, especially since the lone restroom at Vickers is an outhouse. Another possibility is a playground with an equestrian theme. He would also like to build a second pavilion on site.

“So you could just come, ‘Hey, I just want to come here with my family,’ and rent that. I don’t want to rent the ring — yeah, you could do that,” Avery said.

But the ring, the barns and everything else horses can be rented, too.

Although there were no big horse shows this year, there could be some in the future, just like there were in the past.

Donaldson suggests creating areas for advanced riders.

“Different obstacles, like, different things that the horses can do, like bridges, maybe some water they can cross over, something to make them think a little bit about what they’re going to do,” she said.

Currently, Vickers is geared toward horses, which will continue to be the focus. But it could change, at least a little bit.

“I mean, we’re not going to put a soccer complex here. So you gotta think through some things and play off what you already have,” Avery said.

Avery has no timetable yet for when any work would get done.

Mill Creek has some drawings of what’s being proposed on its website and is also looking for public comments on the Vickers master plan, which must be submitted by Friday, Sept. 13.

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