LIMA — Faurot Park has received a new playground thanks to a very generous donor, the late Gloria Jean Lawrence. On Friday afternoon, the City of Lima’s Parks, Recreation and Forests cut a red ribbon to officially open the new playground dedicated to Lawrence.
The city of Lima started working on this project in 2018. Before passing the same year, Lawrence dedicated his estate to Lima. After living in Sebring, Florida for many years with her late husband, Floyd Lawrence, Gloria wanted to return home before she died, but she never succeeded.
Her neighbor, Debbie Weigand, has dedicated time to reaching out to the city of Lima and making sure its last wishes come true. Lawrence left Lima at an early age but never lost the fond memories of his home. Out of love for the region, she left $498,000 to the city of Lima. She never had any children of her own but wanted to leave a legacy to the children of her hometown.
The new playground cost around $700,000.
“We have carried out a survey of all our playgrounds. He found our strengths, weaknesses and potential threats/damage to our playgrounds,” said Ric Stolly, Director of Public Works. “We have been able to redo several parks in our area and 94% of the funding comes from donations and state grants. We managed to get $250,000 through a state grant for the next project in 2018. We were about to finish the Faurot Park renovations and suddenly a call came from Florida. We are still trying to figure out how we can commemorate Gloria’s short time here in Lima.”
The new park now includes equipment for all abilities, pull up bars, a new surface, swings, slides and more.
“When I got out of the car, I started crying,” Weigand said. “I know how much she would have appreciated that space.”
Lima Parks, Recreation and Forestry thanked the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Jan Wiebe, Johnny Appleseed Metro Park District, former Mayor Dave Berger, former Director of Public Works Howard Elstro, City of Lima Legal Director Tony Geiger, Lima City Council, Lima City Recreation Board, David Williams and Associates Recreations, Fenson Contracting, City of Lima Engineering Department, City of Lima Utilities Department, City of Lima Tree Team, Modo Media, Mayor Sharetta Smith, Debbie Weigand and Gloria Jean Lawrence.
(Left to right) Ric Stolly, Debbie Weigand and Mayor Sharetta Smith stand in front of Gloria Jean Lawrence’s Memoriam in Faurot Park.