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Mill Creek's $1M makeover

Published: Sun, June 23, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.




FROM ITS 36-HOLE GOLF COURSE TO its 12-acre Fellows Riverside Gardens, Mill Creek Park is getting an end-to-end makeover.

The work is occurring under the administration of Dennis Miller, Mill Creek MetroParks executive director since last September, who was formerly the park’s golf pro and golf director.

“Our goal is to provide recreational activities of regional significance,” Miller said.

Park users won’t experience any increases in park activity fees this year, said Linda Kostka, development and marketing director.

The golf course is getting a major improvement through installation of a golf-training area, which will open within the next month. “The practice range and learning center will open up shortly” in front of the clubhouse, Miller said, adding that the project will cost nearly $300,000.

The Newport Wetlands parking lot likely will reopen in late July after a two-month closing for a $125,000 reconstruction and drainage improvement by Foust Construction Inc. of Girard that will make it more environmentally friendly, said Steve Avery, park planning director and landscape architect.

Permeable brick pavers and a biofiltration garden will be installed to help reduce the rate and amount of surface rainwater runoff into the lake, absorb more water into the ground, and thereby reduce soil erosion and lake sedimentation and improve water quality, Avery added.

The project is being funded in part by $55,354 in federal money passing through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The remainder is coming from park funds and the seeding, mulching and planting labor provided by park staff.

“The Newport Wetlands parking lot actually was our worst pavement condition parking lot in the park,” Avery

said. The intent of the reconstruction is “to have best management practices with stormwater,” he added.

Although the parking lot is closed, the Albert E. Davies Wetland Trail and Smythe Island are still accessible by hiking in from elsewhere and by canoe or kayak.


Playground improvements are ongoing at the James L. Wick Jr. Recreation Area, with new climbing equipment for older children in an adventure playground having been installed this year. The play-area improvements are funded by a $400,000 bequest from Juliana Kurinka.

Other notable improvements are being made to the park’s 15-mile network of hiking trails, where some trail sections are being relocated for erosion control and safety reasons, and crushed stone bases and wood chips are being added in wet and muddy areas.

The park’s forestry crews provide a bountiful free supply of wood chips from tree cuttings for trail maintenance, said Charles Reed, trail supervisor. “They’re basically a temporary fix,” Reed said of the biodegradable wood chips. Crushed stone is a more “permanent fix,” he added.

The park has $20,000 set aside for trail improvements this year, and the work is being done by park staff, Miller said.

Respondents to a survey in conjunction with the park’s strategic planning process overwhelmingly requested more hiking and bicycling trail-use opportunities, Miller noted.

“Over time, they’ve been eroded by rain and people walking on them,” Perry Toth, operations director, said of the hiking trails.

A stone base has been added at the walking trail that circles the Lily Pond. “It’s probably one of our most-visited places in the park,” Miller said of the 4-acre pond. Created in 1896, just five years after the founding of the park, that pond is the park’s oldest artificial body of water.

The Ohio Woodland Gardens Trail on the east side of Fellows Riverside Gardens is newly paved and handicapped accessible and features a marble bench in memory of Ginny Elser, the late assistant park recreation director.

A new, more prominent sign now marks the entrance to West Golf Drive at U.S. Route 224.

This summer, a new roof will be installed at the Ford Nature Education Center; Morley Pavilion will be stained; and improvements will be made to Pioneer Pavilion, Miller said. Details of the park are being spruced up, including painting of comfort stations.

“We’re just trying to raise awareness of who we are and what we do,” Miller said of the new sign and other aspects of park promotion.


The park also is cutting costs by eliminating weekday pedal boat and kayak rental hours at Lake Newport, where Miller said last year’s gross boat rental income was only $2,818, compared to $10,821 at Lake Glacier.

The Lake Newport boat- rental facility will be open weekends and holidays only this summer, but Lake Glacier’s boat rental schedule will continue on its schedule of Tuesdays through Sundays, plus holidays.

Miller said the boat-rental facility at Lake Glacier does considerably more business than the one at Lake Newport because the Glacier rental pavilion is highly visible from Price Road and West Glacier Drive, whereas the Newport facility is not clearly visible from West Newport Drive.

He said he intends to promote pedal-boat rentals by including them beginning this month as part of a package for those who pay fees to use the batting cage and Par Three Golf Course at the Wick Recreation Area. He also said he plans to rehabilitate and rent out for private parties a recreation room at the Lake Glacier Boathouse.

The park continues its multifaceted strategy to address the wildlife-management challenge presented by an excess population and concentration of geese in certain areas of the park by addling the eggs of Canada geese, displaying signs discouraging people from feeding geese, and using early morning sirens and a coyote decoy to disperse geese at the golf course, Miller said.

In previous years, a dog was used to disperse geese at the golf course, he added.

For the third year in a row, park staff have addled [made non-viable] goose eggs under a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, with 163 of the eggs having been addled this year, Avery said.

If the eggs are broken apart, the geese will lay new ones; but, if the eggs are addled and returned to the nest, the geese will continue to incubate them, but they won’t hatch, Avery explained.


1Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

Way to cut the trees down on the golf course. Real smart move. The park was purposed for nature observation not money making recreation .

Suggest removal:

2Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

There was more than a few trees removed over the recent years from the golf course and especially now with all the changes to the golf course. The golf course was renown as it was and most beautiful many of the large oaks have been removed and along golf Drive the maples and the Pines were removed along the strip by 224.

Some very tiny non native looking plants were put in there place . There was no need for that move It removed the privacy and beauty of the course and exposed it to 224. People know the golf course is there.

Additionally pines were pushed down along Truesdale. Why?

Trees were cut down off Shields Road by the Picnic area . Why? They weren't dead and posed no threat to the road being far enough back.

I have seen the removal going on in other areas too. Its one thing to remove a tree that is dead or dying positioned close to the road but healthy trees ? For what ?

Its a park people go there for the trees and wildlife if they want to stare at grass they have their back yards.If they want an amusement park they have other options .

The original intent of Volney Rodgers was preservation and for people to enjoy nature not make profits or cut the trees down. In fact trees were planted when the park began in areas that were formerly meadows or barren.

The park is now a major route for white tail deer and turkey among others that need room to travel the corridors across 224 and beyond. Much of the habitat is gone in surrounding areas so the park is vital to this purpose.Without the native sources of food oaks , hickories etc in sufficient numbers the area will not be able to sustain the wildlife people enjoy viewing.

Suggest removal:

3Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

People know already what is available at the park people aren't unaware. If a good restaurant is located in a remote area but the food is good and prices reasonable they will come. If the place is in a fabulous location and the food is sub par it will fail.

There need to be limits on construction within the park and the people should have a say in what if any changes are made not an individual who is not a even from this area. The park in comparison has a lot of history.

Suggest removal:

4Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

This removal of native hardwoods has not just been going on in MillCeeek Park but Boardman Park and Canfield in the Square.

When the large hardwoods are cut down non native ornamental trees are planted which do not benefit nor sustain wildlife and are homely by comparison. At this rate in Canfield square will be without squirrels in 10 years because they will not have food or habitat. Wood peckers will also be gone etc. It would be much wiser to plant native saplings now in those areas.

Suggest removal:

5Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

Mr. Miller is suppose to gather up the will of the people and direct the park accordingly not run it like a dictator.

The park belongs to the people not solely Mr. Miller for experiments including fracking. Be sure your not running up the tab to push your fracking agenda Mr. Miller.The love of money is the root of all evil.

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6Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

Wrong place.
I was speaking about the trees that were removed along Golf Drive near 224.

"And, didn't I see a story a while back on the Emerald Ash Borer beetle that has caused thousands of trees to be taken down all over Ohio and Pennsylvania?"- - -No these were not ash trees. They were Maple and pine trees. Also many oak trees were removed and not replaced along Golf Drive and on the Golf course. These trees were mature providing great shade beauty and food for our wildlife. They have not been replaced.Now water floods that section when we have some good rains because the big trees are not there to drain the water.

They provided privacy and beauty for both the golfers, pedestrians(walkers /joggers/cyclists) and motorists who use Golf Drive. The lame excuse given was disease on the pines . I was there often and saw none. Additionally the pine supposed disease would have nothing to do with the Maples.That view along Golf Drive has been ruined.

For your information I spoke with "the source" on multiple occasions. So I think actually I am being positive by attempting to let folks know what is going on with their park. And perhaps you shouldn't make assumptions until you have asked me whether or not I spoke to the source.

As for the wildlife they require habitat that is sufficient to carry a number of animals(carrying capacity) When this is limited wildlife populations suffer.

The few new trees that are planted in some of the areas I mentioned have been non native trees that offer nothing for native wildlife or beauty in comparison .

Hopefully I have been able to clear some things up for you.
Thanks for your response;)

Suggest removal:

7Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years ago

While I am at it you raise an interesting point about the ash trees. They are being cut across the United States to in theory prevent the spread to other ash trees.

However, if all the ash trees are cut it is true the ash beetle will be gone but so will the ash trees.A better approach would be to let the beetles go and see if something in nature can halt their advance because cutting to date has failed. What is there to loose?

Also note these beetles are non native as far as I know. Native trees keep wildlife and people who like parks happy.

Suggest removal:


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