By EILEEN MCCLORY
Thirty years after it opened, a newly-upgraded Dorney Plaza was rededicated during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon in downtown Findlay.
Mayor Lydia Mihalik and the Hancock County commissioners issued a joint proclamation announcing the rededication of the plaza, named in honor of L. Dale Dorney.
Dorney’s $5 million bequest to the Cleveland Foundation led to the creation of the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in 1992. The foundation funds projects to support the Findlay and Hancock County community.
Kathy Kreuchauf, Community Foundation president, said Tuesday that the foundation’s assets have grown to $120 million since its creation in 1992.
The foundation donated $200,000 of the $600,000 cost of the plaza upgrade. The remaining $400,000 was covered by the city, Hancock County and private donations.
The plaza, located between the Findlay Municipal Building and the Hancock County Courthouse, was originally opened in 1987 and dedicated to Dorney. Officials said plans to renovate the plaza began in 2014.
Heather Pendleton, operations coordinator for the Hancock County commissioners, stood in for the commissioners, who were unable to attend the ceremony. Pendleton praised Dorney’s vision and his contributions to the city.
“He is a man who chose selflessness, sacrifice, and serving others,” Pendleton said.
Don Malarky, of the Economic Development Office of Findlay and Hancock County, also spoke. Malarky said the plaza would improve civic engagement and health.
“Our community owes a debt of gratitude to Dale Dorney, and this plaza serves as a small reminder of that,” Malarky said.
RCM architect Jerry Murray said initial designs for the plaza had included fountains and swings, but those plans were set aside because they were too expensive. Instead, Murray said, the new plaza honors the past, present and future of Findlay.
For the past, the stones on the plaza were taken from the same quarry that was used to build the Hancock County Courthouse. The future was honored by planting Japanese cherry trees in the park, a reminder of Findlay’s international partnerships, Murray said. And the angle of the plaza was changed slightly, to remind citizens that Findlay’s future depends on its ability to think outside the box.
Mihalik said she felt lucky to be entrusted with Findlay when she took the oath of office as mayor, and said it was people such as Dorney who have made Hancock County great.
Mihalik recognized the partners on the project, RCM Architects, Helms Construction, and city workers who helped build the plaza.
She also praised Findlay citizens for their dedication to their community.
“We give more of ourselves than most communities across the country,” Mihalik said. “Findlay and Hancock County is a great place to continue to grow and prosper because of it.”