Work on Firestone Park improvements set to begin in January
COLUMBIANA — Work on the more than $3 million project to improve the Harvey S. Firestone Park should begin in January, Pat Tingle of the Restoration and Beautification Committee said this week.
She and the city’s park board president, Dr. Ron Detwiler, gave an update to council on Tuesday.
Phases 1 and 2 of the project are ready to get under way soon, Detwiler said, noting that Phase 1 consists mainly of improvements to Mirror Lake while Phase 2 will focus on the historic brick gutters and brand new sidewalks.
He and Tingle and City Manager Lance Willard were all happy to announce that a grant has been approved for a portion of the project, and two other grants are pending.
“We have other funding opportunities open to us. I think it is important to say that we are on our way. It is exciting,” Detwiler said.
In addition to seeking grants, the R&B Committee has also secured private and public donations for the work, some of which is being used as matching funds for the grants.
“We knew that the money that was raised prior to this was going to be important for leveraging,” Willard said.
The grant that has been approved is through the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternative program.
Originally an 80/20 grant, ODOT has increased its portion to cover 95 percent of the funds through the Toll Revenue Credit, for a maximum of $266,100 in federal funds for 2019.
Willard said that it was the engineering firm Herbert, Rowland and Grubic that tossed out the idea to apply for the ODOT funds, and even wrote the grant.
HRG was hired by the R&B Committee to design the park improvements.
“What I love about this whole thing is it is a collaboration … you guys all made this possible and it’s a wonderful thing,” Willard told the committee, park board, HRG and council.
Detwiler said the safety improvement work will consist of the restoration of the brick gutters that were installed in the park some 80 years ago.
Also, a new proposed walkway will loop around the park, going past the pool area, the gazebo and onto Springfield Road.
The committee will be raising additional funds for the gutter and walkway work during the Street Fair, with a display in the Holloway Building on South Main Street, courtesy of Rollin Gosney.
“I think no matter where you turn right now, Columbiana is a better place. Property values are continuing to go up. Every time you talk to someone about Columbiana, they want to be here. It’s a shining light in the middle of a lot of darkness,” Mayor Bryan Blakeman said.