YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A person who’s been integral in maintaining and renovating Mill Creek MetroParks is retiring at the end of the month.
Steve Avery started in 1989 as a landscape architect, eventually earning the title of director of planning and operations.
On January 31, he’s leaving behind projects for everyone to enjoy.
One of Avery’s favorite renovations is Mill Creek’s Lily Pond.
“We totally reconstructed the trail around it,” he said.
In his positions of landscape architect and director of planning and operations, Avery was part of virtually every project at Mill Creek MetroParks in the 31 years he worked there.
“One of the things I identified in 1990 — you know, 30 years ago — was this abandoned rail line,” he said.
That abandoned rail line eventually became the MetroParks Bike Trail, along which is the renovated Kirk Road trailhead — both were Avery projects.
He’s also proud of the work done at the Wick Recreation area with the renovated playground and splash pad.
Avery also talked about the heavy responsibility of maintaining what Volney Rogers and some of the world’s greatest landscape architects put in place.
“These things are intrinsic value to the park that I had on my shoulders not to mess up,” he said.
It was a tough decision for him to retire.
“I always knew inside my heart that I wasn’t a 30-and-out person. I really love my job.”
But he knew it was time.
“My wife and I kind of had a serious discussion and said, ‘Man, we kind of thought this would be the time.’ You know? ‘Let’s make a plan.'”
Looking out over the Lily Pond Friday afternoon, Avery watched as a woman walked her dog around the trail he helped to improve. On a warmer day, there would be families with strollers and kids looking at turtles.
It’s Avery’s award for what he accomplished.
“It’s like, ‘OK. The reason they’re able to do this is because of something I had a part of.’ So that gives the pride and the real satisfaction of a job well done.”
Avery called the state of Mill Creek MetroParks outstanding. He said Executive Director Aaron Young has made the park system financially stable and there’s a great capital improvements program to build on when Avery’s gone.