Tucked away in the woods of Riverside Road, just behind the Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue building, are 5.33 acres of land dedicated to where the upcoming Sandy Hook permanent memorial will reside.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission (SHPMC), which consists of local residents, as well as family members directly affected by 12/14, has been overseeing the project of finding the right property for a permanent memorial since 2013.
After ruling out other potential locations, including the High Meadow property at Fairfield Hills, the commission began looking into the Riverside Road property in October 2016. At that time, SHPMC Chair Kyle Lyddy said the location “just felt right” and that other commission members felt a peace about the land.
When the group officially received the property from the Town of Newtown earlier this year, the commission created a request for proposal and began accepting potential designer’s registrations forms. This fall they also began hosting guided site walks for potential designers to view the property in person.
Commission members Dan Krauss and Sarah Middeleer gave The Newtown Bee a guided tour of the site on December 4, just before sunset.
Those who see the property may recognize the location from attending their children’s ballgames, as the site was formerly SAC Field.
Upon entering the property’s driveway, the terrain starts with a flat plot of land, which still has some chain link fencing up from its former baseball field days. There have been discussions at previous SHPMC meetings indicating this portion of land may be suited for accommodating parking, but it has not been made a requirement for designers.
Ultimately, Mr Krauss said, the goal is to have the entrance be a welcoming feature that is mindful of the residential properties neighboring it.
Right now the lower levels of the memorial property can be accessed through a trail system that leads to a meadow with trees lining its perimeter.
Following the trail further back reveals two man-made ponds, one of which still has an old diving board attached to it.
Mr Krauss, while overlooking the water, explained how this property has a history of children happily playing on the land. When he envisions how children would play ball on the upper levels and how perhaps at one point children might have taken a swim in the ponds, it feels like a good fit for honoring the legacies of those who died at Sandy Hook School.
The commission is accepting designs for the Sandy Hook permanent memorial until December 15, through its website sandyhookpermanentmemorial.com.
In January, the group will begin its next phase, the process of selecting a design for the memorial.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial site is private property and can only be viewed when accompanied by a Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission member.
To learn more about the site, visit sandyhookpermanentmemorial.com.