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April 11, 2010

Memorial garden proposed for city park

City Council says request warrants policy

By Debby Woodin

dwoodin@joplinglobe.com

A request to build a memorial garden dedicated to crime victims has the city of Joplin studying whether organizations should be allowed to use portions of city parks for their causes.

The question arose when the City Council was called on last week to act on a request by the local office of the state Board of Probation of Parole to build a memorial garden dedicated to crime victims in Parr Hill Park.

Probation officers Tiffany Campbell, Michelle Lee and Michelle Wilcox told the council that they want to have a ceremony to kick off the project on April 22, during this year’s observance of Crime Victims’ Rights Week, if the council approves the request.

“This park is not just going to be for victims of violent crimes. It is for all victims,” Campbell said.

One council member called the project a “worthy cause,” but council members agreed that the proposal brings up questions about whether it is appropriate to allow even worthy causes to use city parks or property.

Construction costs

The group has a four-phase construction plan for the memorial, which would cost about $9,000 if all four phases are built. The group plans to apply for a grant through the Lowe’s home improvement chain that could pay part or all of the cost. It also plans to sell memorial bricks and plants, and it could conduct fundraising if the grant is not awarded, the women told the council.

The garden would be built in the southeast corner of the park. A sculpture that represents the strength of families and the community embracing crime victims would be centered in a sitting area with metal park benches.

“We want a place of remembrance and reflection,” Campbell told the council.

Installing the sculpture and its surroundings would be the first phase of the garden construction, estimated to cost $3,387. A community contest would be conducted for proposed designs for the sculpture.

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