YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Any story of Mill Creek Park starts with Volney Rogers.
In 1891, the Youngstown lawyer was able to convince the Ohio legislature to create what was first known as the Youngstown Township Park District. It was the first park district in Ohio.
After Volney Rogers died in 1919, money was raised to build a statue in his honor near one of the park’s entrances off Glenwood Avenue. The statue still stands as a tribute to what he did to create the park.
The Mill Creek MetroParks of today is very different from what Volney Rogers envisioned in the 1890’s. It is a combination of bike paths, trails, historical sites, wetlands, creeks, lakes and physical activities.
When most people think of Mill Creek Park, they think of Morely Pavilion, Fellows Riverside Gardens, Lanterman’s Mill or the golf course. But the park is now officially called the Mill Creek MetroParks and includes a wide range of land in Mahoning County.
The Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is an old fish farm that sits on 264 acres not far from the intersection of Western Reserve Road and New Buffalo Road in Beaver Township. The egrets that feed in the water and the squirrels that eat from the feeders are all part of the Mill Creek MetroParks.
“Over the course of the decades as a use of a fish farm created some amazing and high quality wetlands and aquatic habitats that have attracted a wide range of species of birds and mammals,” Kirsten Peetz of Mill Creek MetroParks said.
The Mill Creek MetroParks oversees eight nature preserves, including the Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Hitchcock Woods in Boardman
- Mill Creek Preserve in Boardman
- McGuffey Wildlife Preserve in Youngstown
- Sawmill Creek Preserve in Canfield
- MetroParks Farm in Canfield
- Vickers Nature Preserve in Ellsworth Township
- Sebring Woods in Sebring
Also part of the MetroParks System is Yellow Creek Park in Struthers, the 11-mile MetroParks bike trail and the Buckeye Horse Park, also in Ellsworth Township.
“Back in 1999, we became Mill Creek Metropolitan Park District, so that is the umbrella of what we operate under,” Peetz said.
It took the vote of the people of Mahoning County to create the MetroParks and now a county wide property tax helps support it.
While Mill Creek Park proper has encouraged public use, places like the Wildlife Sanctuary are off limits to humans. It can only be viewed from an observation deck. And even then, binoculars are recommended.