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Dunedin park honors late city manager
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Friends and family of John R. Lawrence unveil a monument at the dedication of a city park renamed in the late former Dunedin city manager’s honor.
DUNEDIN – Friends and family of the late John. R. Lawrence unveiled a monument May 25 at a city park renamed in honor of the former Dunedin city manager.

They gathered to dedicate the John R. Lawrence Pioneer Park, located at 420 Main St.

Matt Lawrence, a son of John Lawrence, said his father adhered to the Golden Rule.

“When all of us are long gone from here, the effort that all of you put in to building this beautiful city will remain a testament to courageous change and to timeless power of the Golden Rule,” Lawrence said.

Former Dunedin Commissioner Bob Barber said he thinks the commission made the right decision after undergoing an extensive city manager search because he “stuck around for some 21 years and was a pioneer in making downtown Dunedin something that everyone can enjoy, love and respect. He will long be remembered, and it is fitting that this park is now named for him.”

Lawrence held the post of city manager far longer than any other manager in the history of Dunedin. City Commissioners, family and friends will be in attendance and the public is invited to this event.

According to a Feb. 13 city memo, Lawrence began his career with the City of Dunedin in 1980 as a city planner before becoming the planning director, then served as the city manager from April 1985 to January 2006.

Lawrence was the city’s longest-serving city manager, and at the time of his retirement, Pinellas County’s longest-serving city manager.

When Lawrence began his career as city manager in 1985, the city of Dunedin faced tremendous challenges, including outdated and dilapidated wastewater and water treatment plants, and a struggling downtown, the memo said.

He proceeded to lead Dunedin through an era of progressive growth and accomplishments.

Lawrence worked in collaboration with multiple mayors, commissioners, employees and the community.

“The specific proposal of ‘The John R. Lawrence Pioneer Park’ was chosen, due to Mr. Lawrence’s unprecedented contribution to the revitalization of downtown Dunedin. He loved and believed in the downtown so much that he moved there in 1997/1998. He lived there until his retirement in 2006. He was a regular at many downtown events and businesses,” said the memo from several community leaders.

Lawrence retired in 2006 and moved to Powder Springs, Georgia, to be closer to his family.

He died August 26, 2012, at the age of 66. His wife, Jo Pamela, sons Matt and Andy, a sister and two grandchildren, survives him.

In the late 1970s the city decided to acquire and develop the property on the corner of Douglas and Main Street as a step for downtown development.

The land was obtained through Community Development Bock Grant for a total of $118,000. A total of $93,000 was used to purchase the land and $25,000 was used for land improvements.
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