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A hiatus and a dog park for Firestone

As construction work shuts down during the winter months of January and February on the restoration of Firestone Park, a new project, making a welcome addition to the park, is about to begin. Before launching into that, here is an update on Phase I progress.

Phase I of the restoration has the following projects completed or are in the final stages of completion:

— Pavilions have been landscaped with the name signs coming in the spring: Mirror Lake, Twin Oaks, Spruce Tunnel, Maple Grove. The landscaping has included new plantings, walkways and handicapped accessibility, as well as the new signage which capitalizes on the predominant trees at each site, or, in the case of Mirror Lake, on the location.

— The four major entrances to the park have been landscaped with beautiful new signs waiting to be installed once the masons can do their work. Signage throughout the park is also on the agenda for spring installation.

— The Sports Courts are completed except for the final stain layer which needs to be done in warmer weather. Fencing is currently going in and will be followed by the pickle ball and tennis nets and posts. We are hoping to add a shuffleboard court in between the pickle ball and tennis courts as space is available. Donation benches have been ordered and should be ready for opening in the spring.

— The Legacy Trail has been carved out at the top of the hill across from the pool house and across the roadway and extends down the hillside to the sports courts. The area south of the pool parking lot has been shaped to get ready for the Legacy Trail features: Idabelle’s Gathering Place and Garden, the Hanna Cabin Ruin Garden and the Hanna Spring Garden, which will join with Harvey’s Lookout, the Lilac Stroll Garden and the Great Tree Lawn.

— The pool house has a new roof/exterior: The roadway in front of it has been changed with new walkway access from the parking lot, and across the street there is a new entry gate of brick leading to the Legacy Trail.

Cost of Phase I? $3.1 million dollars!

Plans are now underway for Phase 2 of the restoration project which introduces new features and uses an area of the park not previously developed. The historic elements named above give the community a chance to add interesting new dimensions to the park, as we celebrate both our Firestone history and Columbiana history. A forthcoming column will detail and share renderings of these sites which will be marked with interpretive panels citing historical information for park visitors.

In keeping with other communities where dog parks have been established to accommodate town and city dwellers who have dogs, we are ready to add a park of our own. One has only to drive through the streets of Columbiana, or walk through Firestone Park, to see a great many dog owners out for their daily runs or walks. During these dark COVID days, it has been heartening to see the park being used by such a rich variety of dog breeds, on leash by their owners, making their way along Mirror Lake or on the walks and pathways in the park. It has been just a matter of time for those of us working on the park to realize our need for a spot for our canine friends.

Early on, Jim Feath, our engineer from Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., presented us with preliminary renderings of what such a facility might look like and where it might be situated. The accompanying map shows where, within the park, the Firestone Dog Park will be located in close proximity to the walking trails. An acre in size, wooded with the probable need to remove some of the trees, this tract of land offers good running room. Parking is likely to be available at the softball gravel lots nearby.

At this point, with a fundraising campaign called GoFundMe underway on social media, and donations being accepted by the Restoration and Beautification Committee of Columbiana at 121 North Main Street, Columbiana, the proposed park needs $80,000 as a goal for construction. It will have agricultural-style fencing, double gates for safety, separate runs for small and large dogs, a water station, park benches for owners, and dog depots/waste stations.

It will be named Firestone Dog Park, after our benefactor, Harvey S. Firestone. Fundraising will be ongoing until it is determined how much money has been raised and how many of the features of the park can be included. Watch for a sign in town square promoting the project and, if you are a dog owner, help us with a donation, large or small. We also accept donations from those who do not have dogs!

We hope to be under construction this summer or early fall; watch for a groundbreaking ceremony date, and all associated fundraising events being planned by Mary Ann Green and the dog park committee. You will be hearing a lot from them in the coming days. Another new addition to our wonderful park

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