IN THE NEWS – Newtown’s Sandy Hook Memorial receives state funding

July 2, 2021

CT decision to grant Newtown $2.6 million for Sandy Hook memorial ‘means a lot to everybody’

NEWTOWN – A state grant that would cover 70 percent of the Sandy Hook memorial’s $3.7 million cost was welcomed by leaders here as an important show of support for Newtown’s loss.

“It means a lot to everybody that the state choose to help us remember these 26 individuals who were tragically lost that day,” said Daniel Krauss, the chairman of a volunteer group advising Newtown about a memorial for the 20 first-graders and six educators slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. “We’re very grateful to the state for their funding.”

The state’s $2.6 million grant, approved as part of a larger bonding package in the final hours of Hartford’s legislative session in June, comes as Newtown prepares to break ground on a 5-acre memorial site in Sandy Hook that is expected to open for the 10th anniversary of the shooting in December 2022.

“If you look at the design, it very much has a New England and Newtown feel to it,” Krauss said Thursday. “We look forward to the day this beautiful memorial is open and dedicated to honor these individuals.”

State Sen. Tony Hwang, who led the Newtown delegation to get the $2.6 million grant approved, said the memorial “will provide a step forward toward closure and healing from an incredibly emotional time for our community.”

“[M]embers of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission volunteers…have diligently and respectfully planned this memorial for the past number of years,” Hwang said in a prepared statement. “I am honored to be a part of a team effort working together for Newtown and Sandy Hook.”

Hwang was referring to a battle begun by the volunteer commission in 2013 which at the time seemed daunting: find the perfect location and the right design that everyone can agree upon to honor the lives of those lost, on a next-to-nothing budget.

“I think it was (commission volunteer) JoAnn Bacon who said ‘We need to bring everything together in that one spot,’” Krauss said.

The short version of the last eight years is that Newtown was able to pare down an $11 million design to a $3.7 million version that voters approved in November. The scaled-down design kept a healing walk through nature as its central theme, and kept the ‘sacred’ sycamore in the middle of a reflecting pool surrounded by the names of the victims as its destination.

State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky commended lawmakers’ bipartisanship.

“I am truly touched that the governor and the Speaker of the House thought of us and acted to help us have a place of beauty intended to recall, honor and continue the process of healing, shared by so many in our community,” Bolinsky said in a prepared statement. “As a delegation, we worked closely to support the issuance of this grant in the spirit intended, with respect, reverence and love.”

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said the state has been a staunch supporter of Newtown.

Eight years ago, for example, lawmakers approved $50 million for Newtown to build a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The state has been very kind and supportive of our community since the tragedy.” Rosenthal said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful for this partnership as we near construction on the memorial to remember and honor the precious lives lost that horrible day.”