Discussions of a permanent memorial in Highland Park continued on Jan. 23 when a working group of local leaders held its second official meeting.
The Place of Remembrance Working Group reviewed details on 11 other places of remembrance across the country, such as one in Parkland, Florida, to honor the victims of a 2018 school shooting and one in Las Vegas, Nevada, to memorialize victims of a 2017 concert shooting — both projects are still in development.
The research of the memorials showed that on average they took five to 10 years from the related tragedy to complete and cost between $5 million to $10 million; though, outliers existed in each category. Many of the projects also benefited from the establishment of a foundation to aid fundraising.
According to notes from the meeting, group members decided that at their next meeting on March 1 they would begin discussing a potential site for the place of remembrance. Additionally, the topic will be the front-page feature on the City’s bimonthly newsletter Highlander in order to keep the public informed of the project’s progress.
The brainstorm session on March 1 is the first step in site selection and then a request for proposals. The group would then set a framework for how to review the proposals, according to the meeting notes.
The notes also say the working group will not officially recommend a memorial location. Instead, based on public feedback, it will present several options and considerations for City Council deliberation and eventual decision.
In early 2023, the city began a “multi-year process” to develop and install a permanent site in honor of those impacted by the shooting, which killed seven and injured more than 50, on July 4, 2022. In the immediate wake of the tragedy, impromptu memorials appeared near downtown Highland Park. The city then installed a temporary memorial to the seven victims near the City Hall rose garden. Officials have said that memorial will remain until a permanent replacement is finished.
City officials agreed in September 2023 to form a working group to discuss the topic and it would include Mayor Nancy Rotering, City Manager Ghida Neukirch, Park District Executive Director Brian Romes, City Resiliency Manager Cynthia Vargas and a councilmember, subsequently selecting Anthony Blumberg.
The five first met on Nov. 28 to set objectives for the place of remembrance and also agreed to develop a code of conduct and values for the group.
During the group’s second meeting Jan. 23, members engaged in trauma-informed training led by Maggie Nash, the director of mental health education at the Josselyn Center.
The working group also plans to meet on April 3 and May 1.
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