COLUMBIANA, Ohio — A five-year, $5.5 million project that not only restored Firestone Park’s beauty but added several new features is complete.
The park was rededicated today in a private ceremony attended by several descendants of the namesake Firestone family and other city leaders. His Legacy Trail and Idabelle Firestone Amphitheater and Garden were featured at the event.
The park was designed and created by the Firestone family in 1935. Harvey A. Firestone was a Columbiana native who founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in 1900.
The bulk of the funding for the renovation came from the Firestone family, the Bradford A. and Patricia L. Tingle Family Trust, other foundations, grants, and community members.
“The park has been the backdrop to our lives since the Firestones introduced it to the city, so this restoration was personal for everyone involved, maybe more for me because I was grieving both my son and my husband when we started the project,” said Pat Tingle, executive of the Tingle Family Trust and co-founder of the Restoration and Beautification Committee of Columbiana.
“[The committee] worked diligently to preserve the historic aspects of Harvey S. Firestone Recreation Park, honor the rich history of our area, and carry on the Firestone legacy of a community park for all to enjoy,” she continued.
The rededication ceremony included a performance by the Firestone Park Orchestra of musical compositions written by Isabelle Firestone, wife of Harvey.
Key members of the Restoration and Beautification Committee were recognized, as were members of the Firestone family who traveled from cities across the country for the event.
A poem written by Tingle honoring the memory of her late husband, Bradford A. Tingle, was read.
The park’s history is intertwined with the Firestones and it has played a part in the lives of nearly every citizen of the city throughout its nine decades.
It all started in 1933, when world-renowned innovator Firestone and his wife hired famed landscape architect Ailing DeForrest to develop a public recreation park to give back to his hometown. The park was donated to the city in 1935 after its completion.
The Restoration and Beautification Committee began its renovation project in 2017, starting with Mirror Lake and then expanding to the entire park.
In a 2021 interview with the Business Journal, Tingle said she and her late husband, both Columbiana natives, enjoyed the park in their youth.
The couple have lived in California for most of their adult life. When Tingle returned to Columbiana in 2000, she was appalled at the neglected state of the park and vowed to restore it to its original beauty.
“Everyone in our age group grew up in this park and had special feelings about it,” she said.
She formed the Restoration Committee, which contacted the Firestone family.
“They sent their rep and he was appalled at the state of the park,” Tingle said.
Tingle’s decision to become one of the park’s major funders stems from his memories and his desire to create something for his hometown.
“I thought, ‘I’m 84 and I don’t have any more children. Why not take what my husband and I have earned and do something people can enjoy for years to come? “, she said.
Tingle said the project was fun and rewarding. “I learned about the history of my town and the Firestone family,” she says.
Highlights of the park’s restoration include:
- Preserving the legacy of “wanderers” -Harvey S. Firestone, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who were friends, with the Three Pillars monument at Mirror Lake.
- Inauguration of a memorial garden in honor of the late David A. Tingle, at Mirror Lake.
- Beautification of Mirror Lake with water features, paved walkways, benches and landscaping.
- Improve park accessibility and safety with new sidewalks from the pool parking lot to the football stadium, around Mirror Lake and to the adjacent tennis and basketball courts.
- Replacement of swings and seesaws throughout the park.
- Landscaping around pavilions and common areas, including new garbage cans.
- Reforestation throughout the park, including adding two or three trees for every tree lost.
- Updated brick gutters along the roadway using historic bricks.
- Addition of pickleball courts and resurfacing of tennis and basketball courts.
- Resurfacing of softball fields.
- Renovation of the exterior of the swimming pool building.
Work on a dog park will begin next year, according to committee spokeswoman Mary Ann Green.
Funds are also being raised for the renovation of the Columbiana High School football stadium, which is in the park.
Columbiana Craft BeerFest will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at Firestone Farms Downtown, 101 Town Center Ave. Proceeds will help pay for the first phase of the stadium project, which will include the removal and replacement of hospitality stands. The campaign goal for the phase is $200,000.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and include 10 tasting tickets and a 13-ounce tasting glass. The event will include live music; for more information, visit www.ColumbianaCraftBeerFest.com.
Top of the photo: An arch marks the start of the new Legacy Parkway in Firestone Park. Informative plaques about the history and features of the park have been placed along the trail.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.