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Editorial: Modest park a good reminder

City Council members are slated today to consider a request for $350,000 to build a three-acre memorial park at the site where the remains of 11 women and an unborn child were unearthed by police in February 2009. All 11 women have been identified, and the West Mesa murders remain the city’s largest unsolved homicide case.

For the past seven years, relatives of the victims, city officials and the housing developer that owns the 92-acre parcel where the bodies were found, have talked about building a memorial park at the site.

In 2009, developer KB Home – which had halted development at the site during the economic downturn – offered to donate three acres for the park, and even came up with a design for a modest and respectful memorial park. The grassy rectangular park features an oval pathway lined by 11 trees representing the victims and an empty entryway representing the unborn child.

Until last Thursday, when city councilors Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez added the $350,000 request to a packet of budget amendments at a city budget hearing, the KB Home announcement had been the only concrete step that had been taken toward building the park.

Peña, Sanchez and others – particularly some of the women’s relatives – have said the project has dragged on for far too long.

In 2009, we suggested that all parties take some time to consider whether a memorial park was the best way to remember the victims and, in the seven years since, we have heard of no alternatives. We take exception, however, to Peña’s call for a “spectacular” memorial: Propriety dictates otherwise.

As Peña noted in a news release announcing her budget proposals, “This memorial … will serve as a reminder that we as a city must address the social conditions that helped to contribute to their deaths.”

The requested funds, part of an overall spending plan of about $524 million for the upcoming fiscal year, is money well spent if the memorial does, indeed, accomplish that goal.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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