Plans for new park to be announced

LIMA — Lima’s east side is about to get a major facelift.

At 12:30 p.m. Monday, an event will take place in front of Spartan Stadium on Bellefontaine Avenue to unveil the plans for a new park which both city and Lima school officials say will not only make the new stadium more attractive but will also serve to beautify one of the main eastern entrances into the city.

“That is going to be amazing,” Lima Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “It will make it very attractive when people drive in from outside the community. It’s going to be beautiful.”

The park will be given the name “Lima Stadium Park,” which commemorates the original Lima Stadium, built in 1936 and home to such events as the annual South-Central Thanksgiving football game and, more recently, home to both the Lima Senior Spartans and the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds. The park will also serve to recognize all of the schools that have called Lima Stadium home: Lima South, Lima Central, St. Rose, Lima Senior and Lima Central Catholic.

The history of this project goes back to the mid-1990s, when the city began looking at ways to beautify the Bellefontaine Street/Market Street corridor, even commissioning architectural renderings of how the stadium could be made more visible if the residences along that part of Bellefontaine were removed.

Leo Hawk, chairman emeritus of American Trim, was approached about possibly acquiring properties in that area to help facilitate the park’s creation, which he, through the AR-HALE Family Foundation, began to do in 2004. Once the properties were all acquired in 2007, the existing structures were demolished.

To help fund the project, then-state Rep. Matt Huffman was able to secure $1.5 million of funding for the park’s creation in 2014. Lima schools also sold parcels of land to the city to aid in the park’s development.

There was concern as to whether the park would become a reality when Lima Stadium was rebuilt and renamed Spartan Stadium. Several members of the community voiced concerns over whether this would fracture the school’s relationship with Lima Central Catholic, throwing the park project into uncertainty. However, all concerned parties were able to reach an agreement with the park to be dedicated to the original stadium and all its home schools.

The park’s design is meant to complement a planned roundabout at the intersection of Bellefontaine, Elm and Calumet, with some of the featured elements including a splash pad with water jets, a decorative permiter fence and walkways from Bellefontaine to the stadium. In addition, the stadium will have a new video scoreboard on the north end of the field, replacing the current board at the south end.

“We have generous donors in this community who came forward and said that they would give us the money for the new scoreboard,” Ackerman said.

Submitted Photo An architectural rendering of the proposed Lima Stadium Park. Photo An architectural rendering of the proposed Lima Stadium Park.

Submitted Photo An architectural rendering of the proposed Lima Stadium Park. Photo An architectural rendering of the proposed Lima Stadium Park.

By Craig Kelly

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Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.