By Jill Fox
The Parkland city commission set the record straight about alleged funds to build a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018.
It began when rumors circulated, speculating the Parkland city commission was given a $1 million grant to build a memorial.
At the meeting on March 4, members of the city commission discussed how a group was already formed to determine all aspects of an MSD memorial to commemorate the victims of the shooting.
One million dollars originated from Senate bill 7026, which states how the money should be used. In 2019, Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen organized an MSD Memorial Committee comprised of representatives from Coral Springs, Parkland, Broward County Schools, Broward County, and the victims’ families.
Led by Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed in the massacre, the long, slow process began with their first meeting on May 6.
The location, size, and scope of the memorial are still being determined, and Montalto has said they are not in any rush to make decisions.
Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, who is on the committee representing the city of Parkland, said there had been a lot of progress in every area, but they have a long way to go.
“There’s a committee in place, and they’re continuing to identify who’s in charge, fact-finding, and doing information gathering of what the potential options are,” she said.
Other tragic events have similarly taken years to conceptualize memorials, including Columbine and Sandy Hook.
The Columbine High School Memorial, which opened in September 2007, is just over an acre in size and consists of a Ring of Remembrance and a Wall of Healing to remember the victims of the shootings in 1999.
In Newtown, where 26 victims were murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012, construction has yet to begin. Their proposed memorial will be located on a 5-acre site and stretch past two ponds towards the woodlands, covering about 3 acres of land.
If Newtown voters approve funds for the project, with an estimated cost of $3.7 million, construction will begin at the end of the year with a projected opening in December 2021.
So far, site surveys have been done at Heron Bay, North Community Park, and Pine Trails Park, but not all possible locations have been considered.
As far as a timeline for the memorial, Hunschofsky said, “At this point, I would respectfully request we allow the committee to continue this process and respect the work that’s being done.”