The campaign to develop an Angel of Hope memorial garden in the city park got a major boost Monday night.
Washington City Council members unanimously agreed to advance $25,000 for the project which, when completed, will provide a garden area in honor of children who have passed away.
Betty Werner, a member of the Angel of Hope committee, addressed the council Monday night and requested the city put up initial funding to cover the cost of the angel statue, which will cost about $14,500, and the pedestal on which it will sit, estimated to cost $10,200.
The reason for seeking the advance funds is that it takes about three months to fabricate and ship the statue which is an exact replica of the original Angel of Hope statue at Salt Lake City, Utah, which was inspired by the book, “The Christmas Box,” by author Richard Paul Evans.
Currently there are almost 90 Angel of Hope gardens around the United States with others under development.
The only other gardens in Missouri currently are in St. Charles and Troy. Another is being planned in Palmyra.
Proponents hope to see the park here completed in time for an annual candlelight vigil held Dec. 6 each year in communities with Angel of Hope gardens.
Robin Peirick, recreation coordinator with the parks department and a member of the committee, said both the angel statue and granite pedestal were ordered Tuesday.
“The death of a child crosses all divides,” Werner said in addressing the council. Werner, who lost her son in a vehicle crash 18 years ago, said “this is a club we don’t want anyone to join,” in speaking on behalf of bereaved parents.
“We want them to be able to have this,” she told council members.
Councilman Tim Brinker said he supports the effort but asked if the city legally could dedicate public funds for the garden.
City Counselor Mark Piontek said the council can legally provide funding.
“You can fund it, with the hope that it will be repaid by donations,” Piontek said.
Committee members pledged to launch a fund-raising effort soon to reimburse the city and cover other costs associated with the garden. Total cost of the project is to be $40,000 to $45,000.
Some of that will involve in-kind city labor in preparing the site, which is located in a secluded spot along the walking trail south of Lions Lake and near where the new all-abilities park is being developed.
A concept drawing, prepared at no charge by Horn Architects, features a 28-square-foot patio with engraved brick pavers and four benches. A wrought iron decorative fence runs along the southwest side of the garden, behind the angel statue.
A 5-foot-wide walking path would lead up to the memorial with space for more engraved bricks.
The bronze angel is 4 feet, 3 inches tall and has a wingspan of 5 feet, 2 inches.
Bricks with names of the children or messages inscribed will be sold and placed around the monument. The bricks will cost between $100 and $125.
Plain brick pavers would be replaced with engraved bricks as they are purchased. Any additional money raised would be used to maintain the monument and surrounding area.
The memorial garden previously was endorsed by the park board and last month the city council approved the project, but there was no discussion at that time of the city providing funds to get it started.
Assistant City Administrator Brian Boehmer previously said the park will not center on any religion or have any sponsorship signs or logos. No names will be allowed on signs or benches because they may overshadow the names on the bricks, he noted.