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Answers from AJ: Makeshift memorials permitted for a short time in Foothills parks

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By AJ Vicens

Question: What is Foothills Park & Recreation District's policy on impromptu memorials?

Answer: Makeshift memorials are OK for a short time if they don't interfere with park users or create a safety hazard, but they will eventually be removed.

The tragic death of 13-year-old Alexander Cook on July 8 near Weaver Hollow Park elicited the sympathies of those who knew him. Someone erected a makeshift memorial in the park, prompting a question on the rules about such things.

"We don't really have any policy on little temporary memorials," said Colin Insley, director of planning and construction for Foothills. "It rarely happens in our parks."

Foothills owns and operates Weaver Hollow Park, and Insley said he has received calls about the small memorial. In general, small, impromptu memorials like the one at Weaver Hollow are OK, but they won't stay up forever.

"This is probably something we'll be sensitive to, but we'll probably take it down (this) week," Insley said.

According to Trooper David Hall of the Colorado State Patrol, Cook was riding his bicycle about 5 p.m. July 8 on South Wright Court approaching West Stanford Avenue. Cook went through a stop sign at West Stanford Avenue and collided with a car.

"Unfortunately it looks like the child just rode out in front of him," Hall said.

Insley said that while impromptu memorials usually aren't an issue in Foothills parks, there are some permanent memorials in various parks in the form of dedicated benches, path stones and park names. Those memorials are established through a formal application process that includes presenting the idea to Foothills staff, which will then take it to the district's board of directors for final approval. That situation is also infrequent, according to Insley, who estimated that permanent memorials happen once or twice per year.

That was the case with the Columbine High School shootings, which elicited numerous impromptu memorials and now has a large permanent memorial in Clement Park.

"When Columbine happened, there were a lot of those things in the park, and they were ultimately taken down," Insley said. "We are sensitive to (these situations), but we will have to take it down. But we're trying to be sensitive to the community a little bit here."

If you have a question about something happening in South Jeffco, ask AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, or leave a voice mail at 303-933-2233, ext. 22.