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Postings from the Park 20

The renaissance of Firestone Park and a special new pavilion

As we move into September and the fall months, it’s time for an overview of what has happened in Firestone Park in Columbiana in 2021 and what lies ahead. The expressions of appreciation from so many townspeople are now growing as they view ongoing changes in the park. It is, indeed, a renaissance of a sort, with historic ties being honored and new features reflecting the pride that Harvey and Idabelle Firestone must have felt when they surveyed their legacy gift to Harvey’s hometown.

During the year, 2021, beautiful new historic signs have gone up at the entrances. Lloyd Miller carved them based on the original signs, and he spared no detail in making them significant. “Harvey S. Firestone Recreational Park,” they announce, with such stateliness you know better things are to be seen inside the park. History is being made in keeping with the vision of the Firestones.

The restoration of Mirror Lake was the beginning and it is viewed, walked around daily, by residents and so many out of town visitors. Aqua Doc keeps the water clear and colorful, and the marvelous plantings by both Keith Kaiser and Terra Design Studios at the David Tingle Memorial Garden and Three Pillars honoring Firestone and his friends Edison and Ford add seasonal color of note.

All the pavilions have been re-landscaped and enjoy new names, with signs about to go up this fall. Twin Oaks, Spruce Tunnel, Maple Grove, and Mirror Lake are their new names, and each reflects the creative work of Cindy Tyler from Terra Design as well as the names she gave them. Do notice the special plantings around each pavilion; they add evergreens, bushes and perennials as well as annuals to show off the pavilions to their best advantage.

Seeing the Sports Courts completed and being used daily by so many appreciative residents has been uplifting. Pickle ball is enjoying its introduction to the park with many enthusiasts using the courts daily. A sign will soon be erected thanking our local residents, businesses, and organizations who made the restoration possible in conjunction with Restoration and Beatification. A special appreciation to Jim Feath of HRG who did the design and installation.

The last Postings noted the “Million Dollar Parking Lot” and its completion shortly after the pool opened. It is filled so many days with the cars of pool guests, and the first Clipper football game also saw it being used to near capacity. That, with the lighted new walkway to the football stadium offering fans a safe pathway to the game, makes this a really good investment on the part of both the city and the Bradford and Patricia Tingle Foundation. The project solved so many practical issues such as drainage and safety, as well as adding an aesthetic element….the plantings in the bio swales offering color and environmental enhancements….and Harvey’s Lookout is on the hillside celebrating its new view of the overall look of the park.

The Pool House exterior has been strikingly improved with new stucco and many additional features designed and implemented by C. Tucker Cope, Co.

A new fence with a variety of plantings around the exterior, a new awning for

the terrace, and a rich display of plantings at the entrance done by our horticulturist friend, Keith Kaiser, all add up to a spectacular look for this charming original structure so key to the park’s offerings and appearance.

What is still in progress and lies ahead in 2022? The Legacy Trail which occupies the hilltop across from the pool house is in its mid-stages of development by Enviroscapes, our major contracting company working with Terra Design Studios on implementing the design. You can see, from Park Avenue and the pool parking lot, the progress being made on the Hanna Cabin Ruins/Hearth, and the Spring Garden.

The columns for the Idabelle Firestone Gathering Place are also in view from those vantage points. The accompanying rendering shows the work of the architect, Paul Hagman, in designing this Important addition to both the history and the recreational use of the park. The building he has designed reflects elements of the Firestone Monument in the cemetery with its columns and classical beauty, as well as the iconic stone structure of the four other pavilions in the park. This new facility not only adds to the beauty of the park, but offers new cultural and educational opportunities for residents and visitors. Designed as a performing arts amphitheater with the hillside offering seating for 200, it welcomes musical groups for performances, families celebrating weddings and special events, and students/teachers for classes in the rooms inside. It has a public restroom, water fountain, and storage for a wide variety of users. In combination with the gardens that will surround it, it is a tribute to Idabelle Firestone’s love of gardening and music.

Also in the early stages of construction is the girls’ softball field adjacent to the Sports Courts and Mirror Lake Pavilion. A gift from the Alexoff family to the Columbiana Girls Softball Association, it will feature new fences, dugouts, new infield and outfield, seating for fans, and landscaping. A late fall completion of this project is anticipated. R&B is indebted to the Alexoffs for their generous contribution which they make in honor of their grandchild Madison. The field will bear her name.

The Dog Park project is well underway, also, with contributions now at about $72,000 and counting. The committee handling this popular addition has done an exceptional job of lining up events for fundraising. The Dog Park location Is viewable by following the Walking Trails sign behind the maintenance building. A new double lane roadway will be completed to offer better access to this new feature as well as to the Walking Trails and the ball fields in that area.

And so, a renaissance, it is, wouldn’t you say? All that remains now lies in the hands of the school district which now owns the ball fields. A committee has been organized to fundraise for a new football stadium for 2023. The baseball and softball fields/stadiums are also in much need of restoration. A challenge for the school district, but given the progress now evident in restoring Firestone Park, their offerings will surely add to the restoration and beautification of the park and will come with time. (Submitted material)

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