By Elise Franco
The official start of Autumn is Friday, but Mill Creek MetroParks began prepping for the season’s change weeks ago.
Before a single yellow, red or orange leaf hit the ground, parks employees got a jumpstart on fall maintenance starting with closing the parks’ five pavilions just after Labor Day, said Steve Avery, MetroParks operations director.
“We start right after [Labor Day], and it’s basically ongoing maintenance work,” he said. “Most of it doesn’t have a strict deadline.”
Avery said aside from closing the 4 pavilions, workers recently pulled boats from Lakes Glacier and Newport, cleaned and stored them. They also started turning off some of the dozen-or-so water fountains throughout the park grounds.
He said they begin the fall and winter preparation work at the end of summer to ensure they’re finished by the time snow starts to fall.
“We have to get all this stuff done [before winter season] knowing that once it snows, we have to divert our energy to moving that snow.”
Closing Calvary Run, Chestnut Hill and High drives and turning off running water to avoid frozen pipes are among the last tasks workers do, Avery said.
“I’d say by Dec. 1, we have the drives closed and everything done and ready for winter.”
MetroParks maintenance staff also will be tasked with keeping streets and walkways cleared of the leaves, Avery said.
“Once those leaves begin to come down we have guys out there pretty much daily running them off the streets,” he said.
Jason Fallon, media spokesman with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the leaves should begin changing in the next few weeks and will reach peak color by mid-October. They should be dropping leaves in earnest by late October and early November.
“Right now we’re seeing prominently green ... You’ll gradually start to see a turn in the next couple of weeks in the northern part of the state,” he said. “Because there have been sunny days and cooler nights, we are expecting good fall color for this year.
Avery said the biggest challenge during this time is balancing necessary maintenance work with serving the needs of the public. He said it’s important to keep the streets and walkways clear for several reasons.
“As much pedestrian traffic as we get, taking those leaves off relieves hazardous conditions,” he said. “They will also go down into the storm drains and cause clogs if they’re left.”