Memorial site for Krystal Steadman proposed | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Memorial site for Krystal Steadman proposed

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

By Gregory Crofton

Tribune staff writer

A Stateline resident has an idea of where a memorial for Krystal Steadman can go – on land right next to where she was murdered.

Jan Christensen lives on Kahle Drive next to the demolished apartment complex where the 9-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped and murdered in March 2000.

Christensen says she came up with the idea when she found out last month that a large, steel cross erected for Steadman along Highway 50 between Spooner Summit and Carson City had been removed.

Christensen serves as chair of the Oliver Park General Improvement District, an area at the end of Kahle Drive being redeveloped. Christensen said a memorial for Krystal could be located on county land within the redeveloped area.

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Permits issued for the redevelopment project, a 32-unit affordable housing complex, leave the deed for a portion of the land to the county so it can maintain required sediment traps and water retention ponds.

Dan Holler, county manager, on Friday said he did not know if the land had come under county control yet. Even when it does, he said, there would be a number of factors to consider.

“We’d have to take a look to see if there is any usable property,” Holler said. “Then there are TRPA and other permitting issues, and there are concerns, with ponds in the area, that it doesn’t create a hazard for people.”

Christensen raised the idea last month at the Douglas County Commission meeting. The commissioners did not respond to it because it was mentioned during a time set aside for general comments. Christensen plans to request the proposal be on an upcoming agenda.

“I want to do it big time,” Christensen said. “There’s plenty of room on the side of the retention ponds so the county could do something.

“If they want to put something else in rather than the cross, we could do that too. I was just thinking the cross was already made,” she said.

The 8-foot cross is being stored at Blue Mountain Steel in Carson City. The Nevada Department of Transportation removed it after someone complained it represented establishment of religion on the roadside.

Gary James, the man who installed it along Highway 50 where Krystal’s body was found, said he is in the process of applying for a permit from NDOT so a section of the cross can be put back at the memorial site. At a little shorter than 3 feet, what he is proposing would be less visible from the road.

James can go ahead and apply for a permit, but nothing will be allowed alongside the road until the agency conducts public hearings and approves a statewide policy for roadside memorials, said Scott Magruder, spokesman for NDOT. Hearings will be organized for Northern and Southern Nevada sometime next year, Magruder said.

Krystal’s sister, Sonya Klempner, said relocating the memorial is an interesting idea but the project would have to be done the right way.

“The message was taken the wrong way the last time,” said Klempner, a South Lake Tahoe resident. “I’d want to be sure the message is a lot more obvious to people.”

The message she would want the memorial to emphasize is one of community safety.

“It’s the community’s responsibility to protect children,” she said. “There were a lot of little loopholes that happened with my sister that could have been avoided.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com