CLE City Council Approves Resolution Supporting Funding for Garden of 11 Angels

Site includes the former home of convicted murderer Anthony Sowell; Garden to be a public park with a memorial to 11 murdered women

CLEVELAND (October 21, 2020) – Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., and LAND Studio celebrate the Cleveland City Council’s decision to adopt a resolution supporting funding from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program to transform eight parcels on Imperial Ave. into a public park and memorial to the 11 women murdered there nearly 20 years ago.

The resolution was approved unanimously at this morning’s virtual Council meeting. Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson proposed the resolution, which included the following language:

  • WHEREAS, a group of Cleveland residents, public officials, ministers, activists, and others have been actively discussing how to change the image of Imperial Avenue, which was the site of one of the most gruesome murders in Cleveland’s history; and
  • WHEREAS, the site of the Garden of Eleven Angels located on Imperial Avenue in the Cleveland Mount Pleasant neighborhood is a combined effort by this group taskforce to convert this site into a public space that will promote healing and hope for the entire community; and
  • WHEREAS, the Garden of Eleven Angels will serve as a memorial site to honor and commemorate the eleven women murdered on the site, offering closure and healing to the victims of the family while providing the surrounding neighborhood with a safe and attractive outdoor community space to gather and reflect; and
  • WHEREAS, Clean Ohio funding will support ongoing fundraising efforts to establish the planned Garden of Eleven Angels, which will help to uplift the physical appearance, safety, and social infrastructure of the historically disinvested Mount Pleasant neighborhood;

“This is a major step towards turning a site of horrific violence into a community garden honoring the 11 women who were brutally murdered here so many years ago,” said Jacquie Gillon, community engagement specialist & diversity coordinator at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “We hope this park will be an anchor for improvement and prosperity throughout the neighborhood. The brutal past of these properties will be transformed into a garden for reflection, comfort and peace.”

Artist’s rendering of a new park on Imperial Ave.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy (referred to as “Natural Areas Land Conservancy” in the resolution), and Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. have partnered with other local church and community members and organizations to build the Garden of 11 Angels. The creation of the Garden of 11 Angels will bring to fruition the long-awaited plan for a memorial site that was developed in cooperation with the families of the victims, the faith community, local community organizations and community leaders. The tree planting component also advances the goals of the City of Cleveland’s Tree Plan and Climate Action Plan.

We hope this park will be an anchor for improvement and prosperity throughout the neighborhood.

-Jacquie Gillon, Western Reserve Land Conservancy

 

“We have come so far on this project, but there is still more to do,” said Joy Johnson, executive director with Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. “We are thrilled that the City Council and Councilman Johnson have recognized the importance of this project to the families of the 11 women and the neighborhood at large. With these Clean Ohio funds, we can complete this project and continue to heal our community’s wounds.”

The Land Conservancy and Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., are partnering with LAND Studio – a Cleveland-based nonprofit that creates places and connects people through public art, sustainable building and design, collaborative planning and dynamic programming – to develop the park design, based on architect Kevin Robinette’s original drawings, which includes planting native trees and flowers, a memorial plaque, and open green space for the community to enjoy.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy will oversee the construction of the planned park improvements, with the property then to transfer to Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. for long-term ownership and management of the Garden. Burten, Bell, Carr’s Neighborhood Landscaping Enterprise, which hires and trains neighborhood residents to provide landscaping maintenance services for properties within their service area, will be responsible for the long term maintenance of the Garden of 11 Angels.

Construction on the property is ongoing, and all partners involved hope to officially open the Garden in 2021.

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