Gilroy council favors interim memorial at Christmas Hill Park

Gilroy City Council members informally agreed Aug. 26 to create a temporary memorial to victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting.

Mayor Roland Velasco reminded the council that plans presented Monday for a quiet space at the northeast corner of Christmas Hill Park would be just a temporary memorial, and that something more permanent could be created.

Because Aug. 26 was a working session, no votes were taken, and no resolutions presented.

Sometime after the July 28 shooting that left four dead and 13 injured, the city’s public works staff hired Gilroy landscape architect Karen Aitken, of Karen Aitken and Associates to design a temporary memorial at the park. She designed a memorial and presented it at the council work session. The city also hired landscaper Greg Bozzo for the project.

Monday was the first discussion of any memorial by the council. The public works staff and Aitken told council members they are still working on some of the specifics of the design, but all council members were vocal in their support of the concept she presented.

The memorial is proposed to be on the side of the park where the shooting took place, close to the Uvas Creek trail. Where two concrete paths intersect, there is a large palm tree that would be a centerpiece of Aitken’s design.

“A palm tree throughout civilization has symbolized hopefulness and immortality in all religions,” Aitken told the council.

Surrounding the palm tree would be three large boulders, to symbolize the three young people who were killed; Stephen Romero, 6; Keyla Salazar, 13, and Trevor Irby, 25. 

The design included a fence with 16 posts to symbolize the 16 festival goers killed or injured. 

A thick braided rope would wrap around the palm tree, which Aitken said would represent “communal grief.” Aitken said the entire memorial would be approximately 500 or 600 square feet.

Aitken said the project was meaningful to her because she volunteers every year at the festival and had just left minutes before the shooting took place. Aitken said she wanted to make a peaceful place where people could gather.  “It feels very comfortable if people want to spend a moment there,” said Aitken.

The palm tree has already been pruned, according to Aitken. After the Aug. 26 meeting she had spent the next day picking out boulders and moving forward with the design. Aitken said the memorial’s creation was “happening very quickly.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. As a past resident of Gilroy that will always be dear to my heart I totally support a Memorial for those so horribly shot down.

  2. I like the idea for which it stands except the palm tree. Palm trees always look out of place in norcal and I think the fence serves no purpose or meaning. Just like the one on that horrible day.

  3. A permanent memorial has my total support. I hope its design will be significantly different from this temporary one. A palm wrapped in rope is not an appealing design element, in my opinion. And whatever is festooning the palm in the artist’s sketch just adds to the busy, but hardly beautiful effect. The City owns quite a large number of specimen trees at Gilroy Gardens, I believe. Surely one or three of those would be more appropriate. Finally, boulders might work temporarily, but an actual incised stone monument will be needed for the final design.

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