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“Forming a 5-Person Working Group to Facilitate Deliberations on Highland Park Shooting Memorial Site”

Highland Park is one step closer to planning and constructing a everlasting place that may honor the seven victims and all who were impacted by the mass shooting in 2022.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, city councilmembers agreed that the working group, which is able to advise City Council on what officials are calling a “place of remembrance,” will consist of 5 members: the mayor, the town manager, the resiliency manager, the Park District of Highland Park director, and one councilmember.

The council will nominate considered one of its own for the working group through a rank-choice voting process.

Early within the 12 months, the town began a “multi-year process” to develop and install a everlasting site in honor of those impacted by the shooting, which killed seven and injured greater than 50, on July 4, 2022. Within the immediate wake of the tragedy, impromptu memorials appeared near downtown Highland Park. Town then installed a short lived memorial to the seven victims near the City Hall rose garden. Officials have said that the memorial will remain until a everlasting alternative is finished.

City Manager Ghida Neukirch presented recommendations for a working group through the Sept. 26 meeting. In line with the presentation, the working group might be reflective of the range of the Highland Park community and it is going to guide the planning process with help from victim specialists, the police department, the fireplace department, the constructing division, and planning division.

Mayor Nancy Rotering and other city staff members have researched and connected with cities which have experienced similar tragedies — including Littleton, Colorado, and Uvalde, Texas — to find out how they memorialized and honored members of their communities.

“What communities have told us is don’t drag this out. Keep moving it at a pace so you finally get it done since it’s also form of harmful to maintain dragging it out,” Neukirch said. “But at the identical time, we would like to be thoughtful in our approach, and we just need to be sure that if someone isn’t ready today to discuss or provide their input on something, they might be ready next week or they might be ready in two weeks.”

Despite widespread support for the creation of a working group to plan a spot of remembrance, the councilmembers debated what number of councilmembers needs to be within the group and in the event that they should rotate through the working group to have an equal say.

Councilmember Andrés Tapia supported the concept of a single-assignment, meaning that the councilmembers wouldn’t rotate within the meetings but reasonably appoint one person, which is what they eventually agreed upon.

“One of the paramount things about this process is, in the long run, not everyone will agree with the consequence,” he said, “but when the method was healthy and inclusive and everybody got their voice heard as repeatedly as they felt that they had something to say, that is basically the critical part.”

He was also in support of 5 people within the group, meaning only one councilmember along with the 4 other participants specified by the presentation.

Councilmember Anthony Blumberg agreed with Tapia’s interpretation of inclusivity, citing the transparency of the group as one other essential element.

“I need to reiterate that the problem of transparency and inclusivity isn’t a lot concerning the composition of this group, but that they’re inclusive and transparent in considering in our community, and I feel that’s what we’re all striving for,” Blumberg said. “Frankly, whether the group is five or seven, that’s not a problem of inclusivity.”

Neukirch said invitations were sent to victims and survivors of the shooting to take part in the general public discussion process at their very own pace. In line with the presentation, the place of remembrance won’t only remember those that passed away within the shooting but may even “honor[s] the resiliency of those that were affected within the broader community.”

Each Neukirch and Rotering emphasized the importance of ongoing dialogue and public feedback.

“Everybody who was impacted might be included in these conversations, and we have now an absolute dedication to creating sure that every one voices are heard,” Rotering said.

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