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Complaint: Parks board doesn’t represent everyone

Published: Fri, January 28, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



The president of an association of township officials complained publicly that the residents of southern and western Mahoning County are being taxed for the Mill Creek MetroParks system, but they aren’t being represented on the park district’s board of trustees.

“It’s a countywide park. It’s a metropark. If you want to be a true metropark, then let’s include everybody,” said Ted Lyda, a Beaver Township trustee and president of the Mahoning County Township Association.

The association represents the township trustees and fiscal officers of Mahoning County.

Lyda voiced his protest at Thursday’s county commissioners’ meeting.

Noting that the park board expanded at the beginning of 2010 from three to five members, Lyda said there should be representation on the board from outlying areas.

All county property owners pay taxes through a countywide real-estate levy that is dedicated to the park district, which became a countywide park system in 1989 and now includes more than 4,400 acres. The park’s annual budget is $13 million.

A 1.75-mill, 15-year park- district levy passed in November 2001 and expires at the end of 2016. The levy generates about $6.3 million annually.

“I’m very disappointed in Judge [Mark] Belinky,” who is the sole appointing authority for park-board members, Lyda said.

In recent weeks, Judge Belinky, of the county’s probate court, appointed Valencia Y. Marrow of Youngstown and Atty. Louis J. Schiavoni of Boardman to the park board.

Judge Belinky’s earlier appointments to the park board were Youngstown Prosecutor Jay Macejko of Youngstown, John Ragan of Canfield and Dr. Robert J. Durick of Struthers.

The terms of Ragan and Macejko expire at the end of this year.

“I am committed to diversity, and that is geographic, racial, whatever is necessary to make the park board reflect the face of the community,” Judge Belinky said.

“I just find it odd that I’m being criticized when I’m the first probate judge who’s ever expanded and made the park board as diverse as it is now,” he added.

Judge Belinky noted that, in appointing Marrow, he appointed the first African-American board member in the park’s 120-year history. Struthers never was represented until Dr. Durick was appointed, he noted.

The park board has never had a western or southern Mahoning County resident on it.

Judge Belinky said, however, “There will be somebody from an outlying area eventually as positions open up” on the park board.

“I expanded the park board to make it as diverse as possible,” the judge said, adding that even having five members limits the diversity of representation.

When the park board expanded, only four of 45 applications for park board membership came from southern or western Mahoning County residents, the judge observed.

Facilities operated by the park district are: Mill Creek Park in Youngstown and Boardman, Yellow Creek Park in Struthers, the McGuffey Wildlife Preserve in Coitsville, the MetroParks Bikeway in Canfield and Austintown, the MetroParks Farm and Sawmill Creek Preserve in Canfield, Vickers Nature Preserve and Buckeye Horse Park in Ellsworth, Cranberry Run Headwaters in Boardman, the Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary in Beaver Township, and Sebring Woods.


1davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

do not understand this story

the park board was expanded maybe a year ago

now there is someone from canfield struthers boardman and youngstown on the board

and a black woman

for a short period of time that seems pretty diverse

reading between the lines

maybe lyda wanted a spot on the board and has sour grapes

wonder if he was one of the 4 applicants

and why did lyda complain at a commissioners meeting

they have no appointment to this board

why didnt he go to the park board meeting and complain

do you smell a tablack or traficanti thing going on

just a thought

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2palefoot(35 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with davidjohn. Is Lyda suggesting the board expand in number so every area can have a board member? Thats not a practical idea.
All taxpayers have a voice at the park already, they can go to the board meetings and bring their solutions to any problems they find.

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3exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with the other comments. This is a weird story.

I thought that the law fixes the park board at 5 members. So the Judge is obviously limited to the number of people he can put on there. How many townships, villages and cities are there in Mahoning County? 15 or so. And I know John Ragan one of the board members. He lives in Canfield Township. So the claim there is no one from the western part of the county or the townships is not quite true.

But I think there is an obvious bigger issue here. You wonder why people would want to serve the community when there are always these political types shooting at them

You have a Judge who did something that hasn't been done in over a 100 years and I think we all would agree it is a good thing. Yet you have criticism and I agree with davidjohn it is not coming from an unknown Beaver Township turstee.

This does have Traficanti and Tablack written all over it.They are nasty political people. Don't let Traficanti's jolly look fool you. And Tablack. Nothing more be said other then his name.

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4republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Two of the five commissioners are lawyers, appointed by Belinky, a lawyer and judge. Lyda has a legitimate complaint -- 3 of the 6 people in charge of running the park are lawyers. This is not diverse or representative of Mahoning County. It's just more good-old-boy networking by a judge shoring up his political clout.

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5lee(544 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Sell the park and get the Govt. out of the park business

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6rationalthinking(1 comment)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Lee's right!

sell the parks and get the Govt. out of the parks business!


sell the water system and get the Govt. out of the water business


Sell the sewers and get the Govt. out of the waste business


sell the libraries and get the Govt. out of the library business


sell the schools and get the Govt. out of the education business


sell the fire stations and get the Govt. out of the protection business


close up shop because there's no way anyone would want to live in this place.


We're trying to have a civilization here, people.

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7CityGuy705(4 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Sounds exactly like Lyda has some sour grapes here. When you have a complaint such as his, why would you take it to the county commissioners instead of to the park commissioners or to the judge himself? His expecting every city, township and village to be represented is just plain asinine. There are 5 commissioners representing the people of Mahoning County. As for 2 of them being attorneys and this being political? Give me a break. This judge has made an excellent effort to make the board as diversified as possible. Maybe Lyda should worry about running his township and not a park ... leave that to the 5 highly qualified commissioners.

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8Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Here we go again....an AFRICAN-AMERICAN statement. I don't give a rat's rear end if this person is black or sky-blue pink. Quit with trying to point out the wonders of appointing a black. I agree that the citizens of the outlying areas are not represented by a black, a white, a Yank, a hillbilly or whatever. We pay taxes and a lot of us are not even comfortable, do not even feel safe in that park. I resent paying taxes for a park where I won't go unless I am with a group of people....safety in number. Lyda is right. Someone from Beloit is paying taxes so locals can have a nice park and doubtful many from Beloit ever visit Mill Creek Park. As far as I am concerned, why not have an entrance fee to pay for the expenses of the park and take the levy amount off my taxes. And forget this African American crap unless you want to add all our ethnic beginnings onto the word "American". By the way, I am German-American, Native American-American, Dutch-American. Lo and behold, it looks like American is in all those so why don't we forget the ethnic stuff and just admit we are Americans and proud of it.

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9davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

name the many qualified blacks

who have applied

be specific

we are waiting

think it is great that the judge appointed a fresh face for this position

rather then the same old black politicians

who have not served the community well

who should he have appointed

artis gillam

rufus hudson

bob bush

tracey winbush

nothing more be said

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10candystriper(575 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Ohio will have to sell Mill Creek and the rest of the park system to China ... use the cash to cover PERS.


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111970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Pretty sure Lyda used to (and perhaps still does?) work for Mill Creek Park.

Not sure what Traficanti and/or Tablack would have to do with any of this. Would would they gain from Lyda's comments?

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12exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I heard that Lyda was employed by the Park but left under not so friendly circumstances. Don't know the details.

What would Traficanti and Tablack have to do with any of this? Lyda is close to Traficanti. He attends lots of Commissioners meetings. He and Tablack hate Judge Belinky. They never forgave him for beating them over the budget fight.

It is not a stretch to see Lyda with an ax to grind against the Park going to his friends and asking for a forum to complain. They wholeheartedly agreed because they saw it as an opportunity to attack the Judge.

What bothers me about this whole story is that the people on the Park board don't represent the communities they live in but the whole county. I agree with the Judge that it is good to have people from different backgrounds and areas with different ideas and perspectives.But I couldn't care less if all 5 members of the board were from Lowellville if they do a good job.

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