COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Safety improvements are coming to Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, and it’s a park that has seen growing crime in recent years.
News5 also spoke with a local family about the park’s improved safety plan. The family hopes these improvements will ensure no other families experience what they’ve gone through after their loved ones were shot and killed at Memorial Park.
It’s now been more than a year since the Celano family lost two loved ones. Sandy and Ray Celano are brother and sister-in-law. During a shooting on November 20, 2021, Sandy lost her 23-year-old son, Gage, and Ray lost his 14-year-old son, Dominic. Ray also nearly lost his now 13-year-old who was shot five times.
“That night, you took 1/3 of our family away. We'll never get that back. And we want it back,” said Ray.
“I'm the mother of a murdered child, my only child Gage, and I'm an aunt to a murdered nephew,” said Sandy. “There's not a day or a minute, or a second that goes by that I don't think of them.”
Sandy described her son as a happy, and easy-going guy. Ray described his son as a responsible young man, who was loyal to his friends and family.
However now, theCelano family is still waiting for answers and justice in the unsolved case.
“You know, the security cameras, I wish were working for our son. They were inoperable. And so we need security cameras everywhere,” said Sandy.
The family is now saying, safety improvements at Memorial Park could help prevent more crime from happening in the future.
“It's probably a good start, and we'll see how it goes. I'd like to look at exactly how they're going to do it, and how they're going to keep these kids safe,” said Sandy. “It's a good start. Just let's protect our city, our community.”
Their hopes now are that these improvements will ensure no other family has to be in their shoes.
“In our family, it's too little too late,” said Ray. “But I don't want it to happen to anybody else. It’s been a tough journey, it takes your breath away, it knocks you to the ground, and it takes a couple days to come back from it,” Sandy added.
The Colorado Springs Police Department announced its efforts with the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services (PRCS) along with Colorado Springs Utilities on improving safety and recreation at Memorial Park.
Through these groups' efforts, a grant was awarded to CSPD totaling $1,726,331. The grant was awarded to the department from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice.
The grant is a part of the Crime Prevention Through Safer Streets program and will fund the Memorial Park Safety Improvements. These improvements were identified by CSPD, PRCS, the Hillside Advisory Team, and local residents.
The three identified problems were lighting, vandalism, and criminal activity. The improvement projects that will be installed to improve safety in the park are below.
Secure the park from vehicle traffic during closed night-time hours
• Securing Memorial Park from vehicle traffic during established night-time closed hours by installing 19 gates (16 steel and three cable wire) at park access points.
Establishing 24-hour video surveillance around Memorial Park and Sertich Ice Center
• Installing ten wireless theft and vandalism-resistant security cameras at strategic points near the Memorial Skatepark and Sertich Ice Center.
Improve lighting throughout Memorial Park
• Increasing visibility throughout Memorial Park by installing 181 new or improved lights on roadways, parking lots, and walkways.
“The collaboration between City of Colorado Springs organizations, community members, and groups show the commitment by all involved to improve the quality of life and public safety. The improvements to the park will make the park safer for individuals and families. CSPD remains committed to making our community safer, and this grant will do just that,” says Chief of Police Adrian Vasquez.
The City hopes that these safety projects will make Memorial Park a more inviting and safer space for community members to enjoy.
The improvements are expected to be finished in June of this year.
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