By Brenda Gazzar
Thousand Oaks mass shooting survivor Alex Chatoff looks forward to the day he can reflect on last Novembers tragedy at a country-themed bar at a permanent memorial site.
The California Lutheran University student was one of more than 240 patrons and staff at the Borderline Bar and Grill on the night of Nov. 7 when an ex-Marine opened fire, leading to the deaths of 12 innocent people. Chatoff and his then-girlfriend escaped the carnage by hiding behind a DJ booth and then jumping out a window.
The Thousand Oaks City Council on Tuesday is set to consider approving a $250,000 grant agreement with the local recreation and park district to build “a healing garden community memorial” for the Borderline victims and survivors at Conejo Creek North. The scenic park, centrally located near Highway 23 and Janss Road, is the most popular and largest developed park in the city.
“I think its a great idea that theyre making (a memorial) in the first place; I feel its very important,” said Chatoff, 21, who has visited a makeshift memorial outside the still shuttered Borderline bar several times. “One that can always be there to remind our town of what happened and to be thankful for those that were able to make it out but to be able to remember those that did not.”
Conejo Creek North is “a very beautiful park” to build the memorial, he added.
Officials from the Conejo Recreation and Park District plan to unveil the memorials proposed design at the council meeting, said Tom Hare, the districts administrator for parks and planning. The design is mostly being done by in-house staff.
“I feel honored that theres something we can do for the community,” he said.
According to city officials, the memorial could include a water feature in a pond there, such as 12 water jets, as well as plaques.
The reflective area of the memorial could include 12 large granite boulders representing each of the slain victims and nearly 250 pavers representing each of the survivors, Thousand Oaks Mayor Rob McCoy said.
“There is an area for a healing memorial so that people have a place to go, mourn and reflect,” said Melissa Hurtado, assistant to the city manager of Thousand Oaks. “Part of that park area is a stage where people can celebrate life. We thought it was important to incorporate both elements … especially (because) the Borderline was a place where people could enjoy music.”
A working group comprised of city and park officials, Ventura County sheriffs officials, and Cal Lutheran staff recommended building the memorial at the park by the one-year anniversary of the shooting.
Mayor McCoy said city leaders did not want the establishment of the memorial to be delayed for years, as it has been in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. A memorial has yet to be built in Newtown, Connecticut.
“We wanted to have that in place (in Thousand Oaks) because well never forget that day,” McCoy said. “While its a place for the families to come, its a place for the entire city to come. Every resident, over 160,000 residents were affected.”
McCoy, who called the Borderline shooting the citys most seminal event, said Conejo Creek North is a “redemptive” park.
“It will be painful wherever it goes but this is the most visited park we have,” McCoy said. “Theres something significant about taking that ground and making it a place where we find strengthRead More – Source