Firestone Park Renovations

Spring is everywhere, crisis acknowledged and guidelines respected, but work at Firestone Park is continuing as we anticipate the Phase 1 projects from Terra Design Studios as well as sports courts work by HRG.

It is wonderful to see so many residents walking around Mirror Lake and through the park as we pass the days of April together. The open air, as well as compliance with social distancing, make this a wonderful way to get exercise, pass time and wave to friends. And we are assuming some of the preparatory work for the year can go ahead. Aren’t we fortunate to have such a wonderful park?

Several new faces are appearing in the park now and introductions are appropriate. Jay Brothers has been hired through a Tingle Family endowment to maintain all the new plantings and structures coming in 2020 and 2021. Jay is a native of Columbiana who has spent the last 30 years in Florida where he worked as a golf course turf management supervisor as well as a landscape consultant for housing development companies. He brings that extensive experience as well as a special feeling for Firestone Park as he grew up in Columbiana and in the park.

He has a new companion also needing introduced….”Harvey” is a Golden Retriever puppy, now 14 weeks old; he accompanies Jay on his daily tasks usually sitting in the new Gator. We hope the Firestones will be pleased that he bears the founder’s name and serves as a mascot for the park.

Terry Shafer and the park staff have been working with Jay on several projects during March. Rehabilitating the swings and see-saws at Pavilion 1 (now the Oak Grove Pavilion) and Pavilion 2 (now the Maple Grove Pavilion). New swings have been ordered, poles will be sanded and painted, and Frank Nauf has made new see-saws; mulch will be added and these two areas will better serve youngsters who still love to swing and see-saw. We were able to install a new playground at Pavilion 3 last year but our deadline for getting donations ran out before we could do the other two playgrounds. Terry Shafer, our park manager, tells us the new playground at Pavilion 3 (now named the Spruce Tunnel Grove Pavilion) is popular. Wish we could have done the same at the other two, but we had to move on to the replacement of the sports courts. The current improvements described above at least make the equipment at the other two pavilions safe, new, and improved.

Jay Brothers will be in charge of Mirror Lake working with Aqua Doc to maintain the lake itself and providing new mulch, weeding and spraying, and annual plantings for summer 2020. He will also be instrumental in improving grass throughout the park; he as a new Gator and new mower which will mulch leaves as it mows; this is particularly important for the many new trees which will be added, particularly in the Great Tree Lawn. Work on the new plantings will not begin until fall with a delay due to current crisis. Terra Designs now has rescheduled the project as a two-year phase, working in both 2020 and 2021.

Renderings of plans for landscape improvement of the first two of the pavilions, Pavilion 4 now called Mirror Lake Pavilion, and Pavilion 1 now named Oak Grove Pavilion, present the addition of trees, bushes, perennials at each. In developing these plans Anna Werle of Terra Design gives us the rationale for the name changes as well as the nature of the plantings.

She says, “By updating the pavilion names to associate them with trees, and in the case of Mirror Lake Pavilion, a destination, these become more memorable spaces and connect visitors to the story of the park. In choosing trees that were likely part of the original planting plan and that still exist today, we hope to honor the past and original vision for the park.”

Mirror Lake Pavilion (previously known as Pavilion 4)

Seasonal Theme: Summer

            *Mirror Lake and the pavilion welcomes visitors from Lakeview Drive. The goal is to maintain views to the lake, to help provide a sense of excitement over what’s beyond while also complimenting the pavilion itself with plantings.

            *By bringing in canopy trees to provide more overhead structure near the pavilion and parking lot this space won’t feel as vast but more welcoming and intentional.

            *Summer will burst with color in this area by way of a variety of annual and perennial plantings that will surround the Lake. Planting at the pavilion will be a glimpse of what the visitor should expect to see once at the at the pristine lake.

            One other interesting addition is planned for Mirror Lake. Lloyd Miller, who carved the beautiful new signs for the two entrances (going up this fall) is working on sculptures of two white swans which will be placed on the west side of Mirror Lake with a plaque telling their story. According to Jay Groner, our local historian,  “George and Gracie” were swans at the lake for several summers and then they disappeared.

There is a historic post card of Mirror Lake which shows them there. An interesting story goes with their disappearance; this will be shared when they are finished and adorning the lake. This is all part of our intention to tell as many stories and invoke as much history as possible as the park is re-landscaped. We need to memorialize each project with its meaning and significance in the development of our park.

Oak Grove Pavilion (previously known as Pavilion 1)

Seasonal Theme: Fall

            *Taking cues from two magnificent Red Oaks to the west of the Pavilion, we plan to add other oak species to the collection to create a grove.

            *We will celebrate autumn with plants that display bloom, interesting seed heads and berries and fall color.

            *We will visually connect the pavilion to the newly renovated Mirror Lake with plantings and physically make a connection with a new walk south of the pavilion.

            *By improving the view of the pavilion as visitors enter the park via Lakeview Drive we honor the structures as pillars of the park.

The next Postings column will feature the changes coming to pavilion 2

(now known as the Maple Grove Pavilion) and pavilion 3 (now known as the Spruce Tunnel Grove Pavilion). Interesting historical facts about the pavilions will also be detailed. New signs at all the pavilion will display their new names and original numbers.

Keep well, Columbiana and enjoy Firestone Park whenever you can.

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