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This is the story of a fine idea, badly executed but finally rectified to what it probably should have been at the start.
Some 15 years ago a local family planned a memorial to commemorate the deaths of two people who were important to them. The memorial, a small bronze plaque, sits at the edge of a concrete circle where two diagonal walks cross in the center of Raymond Park at Chicago Avenue and Grove Street. The plaque, mounted on a rock, reads, “In Loving Memory of Ruth and Ted Wilt Who Spent Many Hours Enjoying the Park.” For the people who walk in the park, sit on its benches, watch children play and, in warm weather, fill their containers from the adjacent water fountain, the plaque has become part of the ambience of the park.
The City originally filled the inside of the concrete circle with “gravel” – some variety of black grind that was fine, uneven and, in the right setting, could have been attractive. This was not the right setting. With the first rain, the black material floated everywhere – onto shoes, over the boundaries of the concrete enclosing it, onto the grass, onto the paws of dogs.
As days passed, the boundaries of the black stuff disappeared, and it faded into the greater center of the park. For the pedestrians and park-bench occupants, the unspoken question must have been, “What do the donors think?”
This summer the City did the right thing. They barricaded the memorial area, then excavated it and completely covered it with concrete. The plaque now rests beside the circle. A better memorial to Ruth and Ted Wilt may have been possible – but at least black “gravel” no longer decorates the grass, walks, shoes and paws.