Washington could become the third community in Missouri with an Angel of Hope garden if plans are approved by the Washington Park Board and city council.
Park board members discussed the idea during a committee meeting Thursday night and recommended proceeding with plans for the garden to honor the memories of children who have died.
The proposed location for the Angel of Hope garden is a secluded, wooded area east of the Kohmueller farmhouse along a walking trail that runs south of South Lakeshore Drive and the new all abilities park under construction.
The full park board will consider the recommendation at its next full meeting in June.
Robin Peirick, recreation coordinator, initially proposed the idea to Brian Boehmer, assistant city administrator.
Peirick, who lost her son, Ryan, at the age of 4 in October 2008, said she got the idea from the Angel of Hope garden at Blanchette Park in St. Charles. There are more than 85 Angel of Hope gardens in communities around the country. The only other one in Missouri is at Troy. Another is being planned in Palmyra.
“It offers a secluded place to sit and reflect. It’s a unique thing to remember a child and there’s been lots of people in the community who have lost children,” Peirick said.
“There’s not really one around here,” Peirick said.
Boehmer said this proposed angel garden site is not being used for anything.
The angel statue itself would cost $14,500 and would sit on a granite stone base with an inscription carved in it.
Peirick said she still has to get cost estimates from local monument companies for the base.
Boehmer said the total cost likely would be between $20,000 and $25,000. The plan is to raise all the funds through private donations. No city funds would be used, he said.
“It’s a worthwhile project with the parks department being all about kids and families,” Boehmer said.
The bronze angel statue would be 4 feet, 3 inches tall with a wingspan of 5 feet, 2 inches. The angel is made of half-inch thick bronze and is mostly hollow.
It is an exact replica of the original Angel of Hope at Salt Lake City, Utah, which was inspired by the book, “The Christmas Box,” by author Richard Paul Evans.
The only concern raised during Thursday’s park committee meeting was by Dan Cassette, board member, who worried about vandalism.
Boehmer said because the statue would be on city property, it would be covered by the city’s insurance.
The statue would be ordered from Richard Paul Evans Inc. and The Christmas Box House International, which receives no profits from the orders. Normally, it takes about three months to receive the angel after it’s ordered.
Peirick said bricks with names of the children or messages inscribed will be sold and placed around the monument.
Boehmer said a memorial bench also could be considered but that he wanted to avoid using a donor’s name.
Any additional money raised would be used to maintain the monument and surrounding area.
Dedication ceremonies for families that have purchased bricks are held in the spring and fall.
Each year on Dec. 6, communities with Angel of Hope gardens hold candlelight vigils. Normally, white flowers are placed near the monument to honor the children.