YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Who would have thought that a 350-page cookbook titled “Recipes of Youngstown” would have such a big impact on something as iconic as Lanterman’s Mill at Mill Creek MetroParks.
But one woman’s passion to replace Lanterman’s water wheel, which everyone agrees is on its last leg, did for a while create a conflict that now seems to be somewhat resolved.
Bobbi Allen, and others who put together “Recipes of Youngstown” had no idea their little cookbook would be so popular when they first pitched it to Mill Creek MetroParks.
“We’re going to sell a couple hundred cookbooks and these people are just going to go away,” she said.
But go away it did not.
“To date, we have sold about 5,200 cookbooks and we have about $64,500 in net profits,” Allen said.
Mill Creek MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young said that money was generated by the sale of the cookbook.
“We sold 500 cookbooks in three days. And we crashed the PayPal site. It was just ridiculous,” Allen said.
From the outset, the plan was to use the proceeds to replace the water wheel at Lanterman’s Mill.
“And they said the wheel was kind of on its last legs,” Allen said.
But Young said the wheel is safe for now.
“The wheel is currently operational thanks to the hard work of the staff that works down there. But we are entering the latter part of its life span,” Young said.
All that money raised, combined with the cookbook’s momentum, had Bobbi Allen making plans to get the wheel replaced. Allen wanted to move quickly, but park officials were not moving quick enough.
“I don’t know what they plan to do. I honestly don’t. I know that a year ago, we needed a new wheel,” Allen said.
But between the time Allen was interviewed and the time Young was interviewed, a timetable had been developed to replace the wheel.
“I would envision within the next five years, you will see that wheel replaced with a new wheel, probably as part of a much larger rehabilitation project,” Young said.
In the meantime, the $64,500 from the cookbook will remain in a special account and will be used when the wheel is replaced.
But when it was decided to do a second cookbook, park officials said no thanks.
“The time frame in which the Recipes of Youngstown organization wanted to move forward with Book Two was too early in my tenure to give them the answer in the time they needed it. So it was just in the best interest of the park district to pass at that time. We just don’t know what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. I was new. Too early to say yes,” Young said.
Allen said she is okay with waiting five years to fix Lanterman’s water wheel. There are still 500 and some odd cookbooks to be sold, so the money raised should continue to grow.
“Recipes of Youngstown Two” comes out Saturday and the proceeds this time will go to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.