New Mill Creek commissioners receive applause from community members

Tom Shipka addressed the February dismissals of 13 employees, while Lee Frey objected to limiting the public comment portion

The two new Mill Creek Park commissioners, Tom Shipka and Lee Frey, attended their first board meeting.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Both of the new commissioners, Tom Shipka and Lee Frey, had something to say at Monday evening’s regular Mill Creek Metro Parks Board meeting, which seemed to please most in attendance.

Shipka addressed the February dismissals of 13 employees, the public outcry of which is still being heard today.

“The jury is still out on whether those staff cuts were needed as far as I am concerned, and I will gather more information,” he said.

When Board President John Ragan suggested that the public comment portion of the meeting should be limited to 30 minutes per total board meetings, Frey objected.

“I think if 50 people want to speak, 50 people should speak. That’s just the way I feel.”

In the end, it was decided to table any changes to the public comment policy.

Judy Peyko, of Boardman, addressed Ragan during public comments.

“You don’t answer questions, you don’t answer emails and you won’t meet with anyone. How are we supposed to communicate with you? You don’t want us to, am I correct on that?”

Debbie Clark, a teacher and volunteer at Fellows Riverside Gardens, passed around pictures taken June 11 of what she described as dead plants and weeds all over the gardens. A portion of her remarks were directed at Executive Director Aaron Young.

“Now I knew that after Mr. Young decided to decimate the staff at Fellows Riverside Gardens that it would definitely go downhill. Four months later, I cannot believe what I found,” she said.

Barbara Brothers was also at Monday’s meeting. She, along with two others, filed a lawsuit to reverse the dismissals, claiming the board violated Ohio’s public meetings laws.

“It would certainly seem to me that what is evident is that there is a change in program, and such a change in program should most certainly have been discussed with the public before that happened to our park,” Brothers said.

The Board approved the repaving of Memorial Hill Drive starting at the entrance near the Volney Rogers statue off Glenwood Avenue. It also tabled a tobacco policy for employees after Frey thought the employees should be notified first.

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