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New Park Chairman enjoys his calling

August 22, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Always a big fan of the great outdoors, Poland resident Ken Filicky is retired and enjoying a busy life as chairman of the Poland Township Park Board. The position brought him closer to his youthful desires.

"After graduating from Mooney in 1976, I went on to take classes in biology and geology at YSU," he said. "I intended to be a park ranger, but ended up at UPS for 36 years."

For four years, he did get to work in Mill Creek Park as an assistant under former naturalist Bill Whitehouse. He learned a lot before leaving the park to take the job at UPS.

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Poland Township's Park Board Chairman Ken Filicky is loving his position and is looking forward to a growing future for what the park has to offer.

Now retired at age 60, a second chance opportunity came around and Filicky grabbed it. He came on the park board in 2008 to help in the capacity of being a naturalist. He stayed on the park board under Mike Heher. When Heher stepped down earlier this year, the trustees selected Filicky as the new chairman. He officially took the seat on March 1 and has been busy since.

Over his years of service on the board, Filicky has seen a lot of good things come to the park. He saw the creation of bat stations to help combat the White Nose Bat syndrome that saw the species dying off. The park presently has seven bat stations and through the park's conservation efforts, has seen an increase in the needed insect eaters.

The park board has also placed between 90 and 100 bird nesting boxes that house hummingbirds, screech owls, wrens, sparrows and bluebirds. The bluebirds have a trail named after them and there are now 12 boxes inhabited by the once endangered species.

"We are the number two spot in Mahoning County for bird watching and counting," Filicky said. "We take part in the annual Christmas Bird County and the Great Backyard Bird Count done in February and sponsored by Cornell University."

He said the park presently is home to 133 bird species.

The park also houses a wide variety of trees. Filicky said prior to the formation of the ark board, the property had 33 species of trees. Today, with a lot of careful planting, the park is home to 77 species, including a small number of Black Ash tree saplings. The trees are too young to be attacked by the Emerald Ash Borer, which Filicky hopes will move out of Ohio by the time the trees start getting larger.

Besides the nature at the park, Filicky is also involved with the public use areas. When park benches started to disappear, he came up with a way to mark them. He brought a portable generator to the pavilion and his router. He spent an afternoon engraving Poland Township Park into the bench deep enough to discourage any further thefts. He said it needed to be done to insure park visitors can enjoy all the park has to offer.

"We want to meet as many recreational needs of park visitors as possible," he said. "That is why we are looking into new programs such as a disc golf course, pickle ball, and perhaps a volleyball sand court. People have also requested a dog park, but that becomes expensive for the fencing."

Filicky said the park is expanding with the addition of acreage to the east that will become Poland's first cross country course. The property is east of the sled riding hill and has been mapped out for the course which is expected to be completed this year.

"The course is roughed in right now and still needs grass planted," he said. "We are hoping to hold meets there next year."

He said the property is being leased from Republic Services at $1 per year for 99 years.

Another section to the northeast of the park is a wetland area. This was required by the Ohio EPA and had to be a working wetland area. As soon as it gets approval from the EPA, Poland Township Park Board will become the guardians of the wetlands. Filicky said it will be a great place for Poland students to study a wetland up close.

As the park continues to grow, Filicky and Mike Luzan will keep up on park maintenance as best they can. The two men are the volunteers that make things happen in the park, with some help from the Poland Township Road Department.

Filicky's passion for the outdoors and nature has spread to his son Kyle Filicky. Kyle helps out in the park when he can.

"He is presently with Civil Environmental Consultants out of Pittsburgh," Filicky said. "He is a staff scientist, so the student becomes the teacher."



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