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Mill Creek Park improvements coming

Frank Tarantine of Youngstown jogs through Mill Creek Park on a quiet winter’s day on Friday. Mill Creek MetroParks enthusiasts may notice changes around the park system as the year progresses. Multiple capital improvement projects are on the calendar, including the renovation of the Ford Nature Center, with a capital campaign project aimed at $3 million.

YOUNGSTOWN — Mill Creek MetroParks enthusiasts may notice changes around the park system as the year progresses.

Multiple capital improvement projects are on the calendar, including the renovation of the Ford Nature Center, with a capital campaign project aimed at $3 million.

Throughout the rest of the year, multiple improvement projects totaling $1.9 million are scheduled.

“It’s going to be a big year,” said Steve Avery, former planning and operations director, who recently retired.

Following the Ford Nature Center project, Avery said Wick Recreation Area will see sprucing up, with a cost of $500,000.

As “unexciting” as that project may sound, “it is exciting” as a new maintenance facility will be constructed, which will be used for storage and equipment servicing, Avery said.

The warming house, which Avery described as “a nice, relatively historic structure,” will be renovated. The warming house, which has been utilized as a maintenance facility, will house various programs upon completion.

Next on the improvements list in terms of cost are road improvements, for $350,000.

East Newport Drive, from Shields Road to Kreider’s Entrance, will be improved, while Valley Drive from East Park Drive to the suspension bridge will see improvements.

Partially funded by the biennial Ohio Department of Transportation road tax allocation, storm drainage and pipe replacement will occur, along with guardrail improvements, asphalt paving, pavement markings and aggregate shoulders.

The next costly project is cart path paving at Mill Creek Golf Course, with $325,000 set aside.

Paving will take place “substantially on the south course,” Avery said. Some years ago, aggregate cart paths were constructed, and now this year those paths, totaling about 2.6 miles, will be paved.

Fellows Riverside Garden, also known as “the rose garden,” will see a brand new structure that will serve as the outdoor educational building.

Avery said the proposed structure will be constructed in the Children’s Garden.

This project received the core of its funding through private funds, Avery said. About $200,000 comes from the Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens endowment fund.

One unique project will cover a distance, Avery said.

General annual trail improvements will be underway, costing $175,000.

Resurfacing the MetroParks Bikeway will include asphalt repair and paving, and aggregate shoulders.

The bikeway goes from Trumbull County through Austintown, into Canfield where it ends at Western Reserve Road. Two miles of the bikeway are anticipated to be worked on, Avery said.

Smaller projects are included in the trail improvements category, including the bridge construction at the Hitchcock Woods Hiking Trail, maintenance at the Vickers Nature Preserve and East Golf Hike and Bike Trail.

Other projects slated for 2020 throughout Mill Creek MetroParks are:

• Parking lot improvements for $150,000;

• Signage improvements for $25,000;

• Pavilion improvements at Old Log Cabin and Scholl Pavilion for $25,000;

• Comfort station improvements at the Lily Pond for $50,000;

• Bridge improvements on Old Orchard Bridge for $200,000;

• Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Mill Creek Preserve improvements for $40,000;

• McGuffey Wildlife Preserve improvements for $50,000;

• Other Fellows Riverside Gardens improvements for $75,000.

Professional consultant services were budgeted, including $150,000 for the Ford Nature Center, $35,000 for the Wick Recreation Area maintenance facility, and $50,000 for the Wick Recreation Area warming house.

Mill Creek MetroParks has 12 locations that span over seven townships, three cities and one village.

afox@tribtoday.com