The West Park Cleveland Police and Fire Fighters Memorial which was dedicated on November 9, 2002 is the result of a joint effort between Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell’s office, O.D.O.T, City Council, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, the Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters, the Greater Cleveland Business Community and West Park residents, under the direction of Judge Timothy McGinty.
The West Park Cleveland Police and Fire Fighters Memorial was built to honor the brave officers who lived in or died in the line of duty in West Park. The Memorial ensures the sacrifices made by these brave officers does not go unnoticed or unappreciated by those they sought to serve. It honors the families of these officers by providing a sacred space for introspection and remembrance. In conjunction with this Memorial, funds have been established for scholarships for surviving children of these officers and the ongoing maintenance of the Memorial. The sculpture was underwritten through generous donations by family, friends, organizations and businesses.
The design of the Memorial is a result of ten years of planning and dedication by the West Park community. The Memorial begins with a scenic walkway which overlooks the Metro Parks on Rocky River Drive. The Walkway offers a magnificent view of the valley and river one hundred feet below. At the heart of the Walkway is the granite and bronze Memorial designed by local sculptor, Paula Blackman. Etched into the granite are the names of Police Officers and Fire Fighters who died in the line of Duty from or in the West Park area. Also incorporated into the Memorial Walkway are sculpted ironworks of police and fire fighter rescuer scenes created by award-winning artist, Brinsely Tyrrell.
This Memorial would not have been possible without the support of the families of the fallen officers and the many donors and volunteers who have given generously of their resources and time to make this Memorial a reality.
The Artist’s Concepts
The Cleveland Police and Fire Fighters Memorial Walkway was, at its inception and continues to be, a collaborative effort. This collaboration includes myself, artist Brinsley Tyrrell, Cleveland Public Art, Cleveland Fire Fighters, Cleveland Police Department, Ohio Department of Transportation, and former Judge Timothy J. McGinty, founder and chair of the project. The concept was to realize a scenic walkway with a Memorial to honor those who died in the line of duty.
I was asked to help design and plan the Memorial Walkway along with Brinsley Tyrrell, Judge McGinty, and Cleveland Public Art. We chose an area in Cleveland for the Memorial. The site can be described as the cliff-top of Cleveland’s Metropolitan Park overlooking the Rocky River Valley. At that time, the site along the roadway had no sidewalk. Weeds, bushes, garbage and a rusted, bent and broken guardrail ran along the proposed site. There was no safe access to enjoy the view. The vision was to develop the location with a 1/3-mile long sidewalk, a low brick wall along the cliff and a plaza area for the Memorial with benches for contemplation. Together we refined the design and presented it to the people of the neighborhood, the families of the deceased, public officials, grant foundations, and the Police and Fire Fighters Unions. With each meeting, more people became involved. The Unions and the Councilman grew to be enthusiastic supporters and took on leadership roles in the effort.
As the design of the Memorial and plaza area began, Brinsley and I worked together to integrate the decorative iron fencing on top of the brick wall. This needed to follow all safety codes. We worked with the granite company and bronze foundry to develop our ideas. We oversaw the placement and installation of the granite pieces and bronze memorial.
Upon successful completion of the Memorial, it has become a destination and a point of pride for everyone involved. Hundreds of police officers, fire fighters, neighbors, friends, families, and strangers visit the Memorial. This collaboration took two years from concept to final construction. The West Park Cleveland Police and Fire Fighters Memorial and Walkway could not have been realized without each person’s talent, knowledge, tenacity, flexibility and interaction.
Paula Blackman | www.paulablackman.com