YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It has been three months since the reorganization of Mill Creek Park, which led to the layoffs of several long-time employees.
For the first time, Mill Creek MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young sat down with WKBN First News to talk about those layoffs and his plans for the park.
Young’s decisions haven’t been popular among many parkgoers, including the Concerned Citizens of Mill Creek Park group, which formed to protest the decisions of park management. The group has criticized the timing of the layoffs, which came after the approval of a park levy in November.
Young said his major goal is to maintain the longevity of the park.
“To guarantee that the MetroParks is going to be here for another 125 years and have the same legacy it had for its first 125,” he said.
Young denies claims that veteran employees were let go due to their age, saying that regulations would prevent those type of layoffs. New people are now being brought in, but the natural resources director position still sits empty after nearly three years.
Young said that is an important position at the park. Along with being responsible for the lands and wildlife, the natural resources director would be responsible for monitoring water quality.
Last year, the lakes were closed all summer due to poor water conditions. Thousands of fish died as a result.
Young said maintenance issues are also among the issues that need addressed, due to the age of the park.
“There are plenty of needs, and you can go out into the park and see them, from the trails to the walls to the mill,” he said.
Young said some of the issues are being addressed. The Lily Pond has been restored, and Lanterman’s Mill is back in operation.
Young said people need to have faith in what the Park Board is doing, even if that means painful decisions along the way.
“They’ll see progress in their parks, and they’re going to see progress in the form of physical improvements,” he said.