Firestone Park Celebrates Renovation
COLUMBIANA, Ohio – A five-year, $5.5 million project that not only restored the beauty of Firestone Park but added several new features, is complete.
The park was rededicated today at a private ceremony there that was attended by several descendants of the namesake Firestone family and other city leaders. Its Legacy Trail and Idabelle Firestone amphitheater and garden were introduced at the event.
The park was conceived and created by the Firestone family in 1935. Harvey S. Firestone was a Columbiana native who founded 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 members of the community.
“The park has been the backdrop for our lives since the Firestones presented it to the city, so this restoration was personal for everyone involved, perhaps more so for me because I was grieving both my son and 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 historical aspects of Harvey S. Firestone Recreational Park, honor our area’s rich history and continue 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 Idabelle Firestone, wife of Harvey.
Key members of the Restoration and Beautification committee were recognized, as were members of the Firestone family who flew in 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 role in the lives of almost every citizen of the city throughout its nine decades.
It started in 1933, when the world-renowned innovator Firestone and his wife hired notable landscape architect Ailing DeForrest to develop a public recreational park as a way of giving back to his hometown. The park was given 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 across 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 lived in California most of their adult lives. When Tingle returned to Columbiana in 2000, she was appalled at the neglected condition of the park and vowed to restore it to its original beauty.
“Everybody in our age group grew up in that park and had special feelings about it,” she said.
She formed the Restoration Committee, which contacted the Firestone family.
“They sent their representative and he was appalled at the condition of the park,” Tingle said.
Tingle’s decision to become a major funder of the park stemmed from her memories and her desire to create something for her hometown.
“I thought, ‘I’m 84 years old and have no children now. Why not take what my husband and I have earned and make something that people can appreciate for years to come?’,” she said.
Tingle said the project was fun and rewarding. “I’ve learned the history of my city and the Firestone family,” she said.
Highlights of the park restoration include:
- Preserving the legacy of the “vagabonds” –Harvey S. Firestone, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who were friends, with the Three Pillars monument at Mirror Lake.
- Dedicating a Memorial Garden honoring the late David A. Tingle, at Mirror Lake.
- Beautification of Mirror Lake with water features, paved walkways, benches and landscaping.
- Improving park accessibility and safety with new sidewalks from the swimming pool parking lot to the football stadium, around Mirror Lake and at the adjacent tennis and basketball courts.
- Replacing swing sets and teetertotters throughout park.
- Landscaping around pavilions and common areas, including new trash receptacles.
- Reforestation throughout the park, including the addition of two or three trees for each tree lost.
- Updating of the brick valley gutters along the roadway using historic bricks.
- Addition of pickleball courts and resurfacing of the tennis and basketball courts.
- Resurfacing of softball fields.
- Renovation of the pool building exterior.
Work on a dog park will begin next year, according to Mary Ann Green, spokeswoman for the committee.
Funds are also being raised for the renovation of the Columbiana High School football stadium, which is in the park.
The Columbiana Craft BeerFest will take place from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Town Center in Firestone Farms, 101 Town Center Ave. Proceeds will help pay for the first phase of the stadium project, which will include removal and replacement of the home stands. The campaign goal for the phase is $200,000.
Pictured at top: An archway marks the start of the new Legacy Walk in Firestone Park. Informative plaques about the park’s history and features have been placed along the trail.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.