YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Monday’s Mill Creek Metro Parks Board meeting was quieter than some have been in the past as commissioners tried to get the public more involved in decision-making.
The board agreed to immediately open applications to its newly-formed committees of community members. Anyone can apply to be a part of one of the nine committees:
- Employee relations
- Nature education
Board member Lee Frey suggested the board meet to determine guidelines for the committees.
“We don’t necessarily have to do what they tell us to do, but we do have to take that into consideration, whatever it is that is reported to us,” he said.
During public comment, Bill Adams questioned Executive Director Aaron Young on the need to dismiss 13 employees and use the savings for a capital improvements plan. It led to a back-and-forth between Adams and Young, which ended when Young said the capital plan was outdated a month after it was prepared.
He said the plan is a working document to inform the board of how tax dollars are spent.
Rosemary Thomas works for a company that provides chairs for outdoor events. She said the lack of park rangers has created problems organizing seating at the gazebo and pavilion in Fellows Riverside Gardens.
“We went down there, we set the chairs up, there was never a problem. Now when we go down there, there are people that are still in the pavilion, they’re still in the gazebo.”
A representative from Fellows said he would look into the problem.
Meanwhile, people continued to speak against Aaron Young.
“You cannot order the public to applaud you. You have to earn the trust and respect of the public, and you have not done so,” said Angie Bradian, a Boardman School Board member.
Another school board member, Jeffrey Barone, supported Young and his capital improvements plan.
“I am grateful that we have a director willing to stand up for a business plan and process that makes sense, that he believes in, and board members that join him in his vision,” he said.
Several other issues were also discussed Monday night.
The board also voted to terminate the existing agreement with the Friends Specialty Company to operate the Garden Café at Fellows.
Faniro Architects of Youngstown has been hired to design a replacement of the Lanterman’s Mill wheel.
Frey recommended the Park treasurer report to the board and not the executive director, and fellow board member Tom Shipka recommended that any significant impact on employees be approved in a public session of the board.