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.
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.
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 .
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