A local committee is working to replace the 19-year-old Children’s Memorial Tree by Aug. 9.
The memorial, originally dedicated in 1994 to honor young people from the community who had died, is rotting and the committee has started raising money to save it.
“This will be such a huge community effort. I’d like to see the entire community involved,” said Kenny Curtzwiler, leader of the Save the Children’s Memorial project.
Sue Hrbacek founded the memorial three years after her son, Rory, and two of his friends, Sandy Haynes and Casey Wells, were involved in a fatal car accident on Pioneer Trail. The log started with 36 bronze nameplates. Now there are more than 220.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with what Kenny and Dan Jones (the artist who designed the original memorial) are doing,” Hrbacek said Friday. “The biggest goal is to get the log replaced.”
Curtzwiler said there’s no room on the log for additional plaques, but the new memorial will be 18 inches longer and sculpted from synthetic materials by Jones. He began work on the new tree earlier this year, Curtzwiler said.
According to South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry, the committee doesn’t need a formal project proposal to replace the log. The City Council will discuss the project at the May 21 meeting, but Kerry said she doesn’t anticipate difficulties replacing the tree by August. The city’s Great Ideas for Tahoe, or GIFT, pool could help fund the project.
Save the Children’s Memorial committee’s plans to create a memorial park including benches, a paved walkway and a small bridge would have to be identified as a capital improvement project by the city and would require additional permitting. The city can’t take on another project this summer, Kerry said, but the park could become a reality by 2015.
“We all appreciate Kenny’s interest and dedication, but it is public property. There still has to be a process,” she said.
Curtzwiler estimates costs to replace the log at $13,000, while the memorial park with serenity benches and walkway would cost another $5,000. So far the group has raised $3,700, he said.
Once Curtzwiler gets the official go-ahead from the city, he will remove the plaques from the log and draw a schematic of the plates’ location so they can be replaced on the new memorial. The crew will then cut the tree into small sections to be used as mulch at the rededicated memorial site.
“The one thing this community is really good at is getting together for a local cause. If somebody’s hurt or having a problem, the community is so good about having the fundraisers and everything else,” he said. “We do take care of ourselves. I anticipate well over 1,000 people at this Aug. 9 rededication.”