There’s still room on the Columbiana beautification bandwagon

COLUMBIANA – City Council has given its blessing to two new projects that will enhance the park and a portion of the downtown. The projects are being spearheaded by the city’s Restoration, Renovation and Beautification Committee, and committee member Pat Tingle said they are creating a “task force” of major community groups to assist with the projects.

The committee has been meeting with the park board and seeking its advice.

The projects are to bring the Harvey S. Firestone Park back to its original design for its 80th anniversary in 2015, and to turn a vacant lot near Vivian’s Antiques and Ryan’s News on South Main Street into a pocket park.

The park’s original design dates back to 1935, and Tingle said the committee is hoping for donations from the private sector and will also host fund raising events to help pay for the acquiring of a landscape architect, professional grant writer and publicist.

“We are getting a very positive response from people in the community,” she said.

Bringing the 52-acre park back to its original design would not result in a major overhaul of its appearance, but would consist of a spruce-up of the brick gutters, pavilions, plantings and landscape design.

A total cost estimate has not been given at this point, although Tingle estimated the pocket park would cost around $20,000 to $30,000, and that would also be supported through private donations.

The lot owned by the city formerly housed a building that burned down and has been vacant since.

“Being that nothing has happened there for a long time we thought we would come up with an idea. It would be a nice area with trees, flowers and benches and tables. We’d like to put it out for bids and get some ideas what local landscapers would do,” she said.

The committee already has an idea for a sponsor, which would pay for the entire project, but back-up ideas are already in the works pending that sponsor does not come through, she added.

Council members were pleased with the idea and believed it would provide a nice place for local shoppers to take a break and enjoy the area.

Mayor Bryan Blakeman said he has seen pocket parks in other areas that feature outdoor pianos for people to play, and Councilman Dick McBane said he would like to see chess tables there.

Council also approved:

– A request from Chamber of Commerce Executive Director April Brinker for the display of a thank-you sign for those who sponsored and provided donations for the flower basket fund. Brinker said the 4- by 8-foot sign would be near where the United Way fundraising sign was located. She also requested extension of the 30-day limitation.

– A request from Kelly Harding to host the Heroes and Halos safety day on June 28 in Firestone Park, and a request to hold a 5K Race and Fun Run Sept. 20 at the high school. The third annual race will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be supervised by city police, fire and EMS workers.

– An emergency resolution to apply for transportation enhancement funds for the Fairfield Avenue sidewalk project.

– Not requiring a public hearing for a liquor application renewal for the Valero service station.

– Council also approved entering into an executive session at 7:25 p.m. to discuss pending litigation. Council returned at 8:05 p.m. and later approved authorizing City Manager Lance Willard to hire Harrington Hoppe and Mitchell law firm.