Columbiana restoration panel sets sights on Firestone Park

COLUMBIANA – The committee responsible for the beautification of the traffic circle and Main Street is turning its focus to Firestone Park.

Restoration, Renovation and Beautification (RR&B) Committee trustee Vaughn Musser said the group is gathering input from the city’s Park Board and Tourism Bureau on the new project, and from at least one member of council.

Trustees spoke with Park Board Chairman Ron Detwiler, Tourism Bureau President Rob Schwartz and former mayor and current councilman Dick Simpson about their ideas, and that includes bringing the park back to its original design.

“We thought that it would be a worthy project for the entire community,” Musser said.

The project is also timely since the Harvey S. Firestone Park will be turning 80 next year, she added.

According to Musser, the park was originally designed by Alling S. DeForest, a nationally known landscape architect, and those drawings are still on file at City Hall.

Over the years design of the 52-acre park moved away from those plans.

“It seems to me the football field was not even planned originally. There are a number of things that are different from what the original plan was,” she said.

The project would not require an overhaul of the park, but consist of a “spruce up” that would include taking care of the brick gutters that run throughout and updating pavilions, plantings and landscape design, she said.

Detwiler said the old fashioned gutters were constructed in the 1930s.

“The fact they are still there is magnificent, but they need some work done,” he said.

The work was originally to be funded through a park levy sought about five years ago, but it did it not pass by about 16 votes, he recalled.

A levy has not been sought since then.

The focus of the levy was dredging of Mirror Lake and the installation of new stonework around the lake, he said.

The park board has been working on improving the lake the last few years despite the lack of levy funding.

“That’s at the top of our list and it seems to be theirs too, but it’s important that we all work together, especially on funding for those projects,” he said of the committee.

He added the lake was included in the original design, and initial improvements were funded through a park levy about eight years ago.

The funding went toward stonework on the steep wall by the pavilion, but the area needs to be redone, he said.

The first levy also funded renovations to the football and baseball stadiums and walking trail.

Detwiler said money has already been donated for a new fountain at the lake but it cannot be installed until the lake is dredged, which hasn’t been done for at least 10 years.

Musser said the project will need approval from the city’s park board and council before it can begin, and if approval is given financial support will be needed.

“It will take a concerted effort from members of the community – the business community as well as the general public. It’s not something that can be done with just a simple fund-raiser. We need to get a large number of people and organizations behind us in order to get this started,” she said.

The committee is also exploring another project to develop a “pocket park” on the vacant lot between Vivian’s and Ryan’s News on Main Street. The city owns the lot, which currently holds several large transformer boxes that were installed when the city and Ohio Department of Transportation renovated the street last year.

The committee’s goal is to make that area more attractive for shoppers and visitors. Projects are funded through public and private donations.