A memorial to remember those lost to gun violence has secured more than half of the money it needs to become a reality, thanks to the State Bond Commission and Gov. Dan Malloy.
The State Bond Commission Tuesday approved $300,000 grant-in-aid to the city to create The Lost Generation Memorial Garden planned for Valley Street in the shadow of West Rock on city-owned property.
The garden is the brainchild of Marlene Pratt, who lost her son to gun violence back in 1998. For the last two years, with the help of other mothers who have lost their children to gun violence and the Harp administration, Pratt has been planning the garden and looking for a location.
Over the summer a new design for the park created pro-bono by Svigals + Partners emerged and the Valley Street location was chosen. With the support of Mayor Toni Harp who has committed $100,000 (which would have to be approved by the Board of Alders) to the project from the city and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Pratt lobbied Malloy to support the memorial.
Pratt gave credit to Harp and State Sen. Martin Looney for setting up a meeting with Malloy back in November. After hearing a pitch from Pratt and the mothers and URI, Harp agreed to help them appeal to the state for the funds.
She said Malloy asked why the state should back such a memorial in New Haven when gun violence has impacted all of the state’s urban centers.
“I told him, let us be the model,” she said. “He agreed to push it before he got out of office.”
The bond commission approved the funding during Malloy’s last such meeting Tuesday.
“What a happy day,” Pratt said.
The city Parks Commission gave the mothers the green light to move forward with the memorial when they approved the location. The cost of the memorial is expected to be upwards of $600,000 to build. The Urban Resources Initiative (URI), a local community forestry nonprofit affiliated with the Yale School of Forestry, is serving as the project’s fiduciary.
Pratt said that the mothers are working to raise the rest of the funds for the garden through private contributions and they plan to be involved in maintaining it.
“It is such a great thing,” she said. “By doing this garden we’re saying to our children ‘We’ve got your back. We’re going to make sure that you are remembered.’”
The funding for the memorial garden is part of nearly $2.3 million in funding that will be heading to New Haven thanks to Tuesday’s Bond Commission vote. Of that, $1 million is going to Fair Haven Community Health Care’s locations at 350 and 374 Grand Ave. for HVAC improvements, a new roof, and a renovation, according to a press release Tuesday from State Rep. Al Paolillo Jr.‘s office.
Additional grant-in-aid recipients include $500,000 for the Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts and The Shubert Theatre toward its phase II renovations and improvements and $463,000 grant-in-aid to the Connecticut Player Foundation and Long Wharf Theatre for facilities planning and a market study, according to the press release.
“I am pleased Gov. Malloy and members of the Bond Commission responded to the New Haven legislative delegation’s request for these funds,” Paolillo stated in the press release. “Everyone’s combined efforts demonstrate how vibrant cities like New Haven are critical to providing economic opportunities and job growth for our region. It also recognizes the important role that arts and culture and healthcare play in supporting our local economy, businesses and residents. It is imperative that our cities are recognized and supported by the state.”