By Denise Dick
They donned their shades and Hawaiian shirts, added a lei and listened to calypso music to restore the Lily Pond in Mill Creek MetroParks.
The Luau at the Lily Pond on Saturday evening was a fundraiser for the pond. Created in 1896, the pond is the oldest man-made body of water in the park.
Estimated restoration cost is $380,000.
Linda Kostka, park development and marketing director, said the event was sold out, with more than 200 reservations made.
Steve Avery, park planning director and landscape architect, said that 660 feet of the third of a mile trail that circles the pond already has been restored, moved farther from the pond’s shore.
Native vegetation has been planted between the shore and the new trail. The park district paid about $35,000 for that work.
A new feature to be added during restoration is a handicapped-accessible observation platform which Avery said will allow visitors to sit or walk and get a better look at the ducks, geese, fish and other wildlife in the pond. The platform will be large enough to fit classes that visit the pond on school field trips.
At the end of the pond farthest from the main parking lot, a boardwalk will replace a portion of the trail. It will stretch over the water.
“Not only will you be able to look out at the water, but you’ll be able to look back at the shoreline,” Avery said.
That portion of the trail isn’t accessible to people in wheelchairs or suitable for strollers. Erosion is also a problem.
Also as part of the project, parking lot drainage will be redirected so it doesn’t end up in the pond.
The pond will not be dredged as part of the project. That was done in 1973, and it’s not needed, Avery said.
Luau attendees enjoyed food and beverages carrying the island theme, and the Calypso Gypsies provided the music.
Carol Flack of Warren, whose neighbor, Terri Parker, is on the fundraising committee, came to the event after hearing about it from her friend. Saturday marked her first visit to the Lily Pond.
“Looking at the pond, I think it’s a really great place,” she said.
Valencia Marro, one of the Mill Creek Park commissioners, attended the event with her husband, Brian.
“I was born and raised in Youngstown and like everyone else, my husband and I would bring our girls down here to play,” she said.
While dating in high school, the couple visited the park too.
Louis Schiavoni, president of the park commissioners, told luau attendees that he grew up on Genesee Drive, not far from the park.
“There’s always been a special place in my heart for this park,” he said.