Quake victim memorial plan withdrawn



After months of contention, the organizers behind a proposed statue that would commemorate the women killed in last December’s earthquake have put their idea on hold.

On Tuesday, Paso Robles city officials at a Parks and Recreation meeting would have potentially decided whether or not to send the statue design plan to the City Council for approval.

Instead, Kyle Gardner, one of the memorial’s main organizers, shocked attendees by withdrawing the proposal. The reason, he said, was downtown merchants’ ongoing disapproval of the statue and a rumor that the Parks and Recreation committee was not going to approve the plan.

That withdrawal doesn’t mean the issue has gone away.

“We haven’t abandoned the project at all,� Gardner said the day after the meeting. “We’re just regrouping. As a matter of fact, we’re going to push it a lot harder but we’re going to do it in a much broader and organized manner.�

Organizers now have three main goals: change the way Paso Robles approves its public art, get more public feedback on the proposed statue, and persuade downtown business owners that the park is the right place for the memorial.

The Gardner family, who were friends with both victims, came up with the idea for a memorial statue in the months following the quake. Since then local artist Dorothy Boyle contributed a potential design, Jon Kemple of Genesis Bronze has created a miniature version, and organizers have raised more than $11,000.

But the city meetings that have followed have been contentious for the organizers and painful for the families of the victims.

“It was a horrible experience,� Gardner said.

In the next few months, organizers will hold public meetings to allow input on several different designs for the statue. ³

— Abraham Hyat

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