Falling Short

May 03, 2005 1 min read

It might seem hard to believe, given how large the Columbine High School shootings still loom in the national imagination, but the organizers of a planned memorial to the victims are having a hard time raising money.

A 28-member committee of parents, students, and faculty members in Jefferson County, Colo., has spent three years designing the memorial, but only $700,000 has been raised for the project so far.

Rose Corazza, a spokeswoman for the Columbine Memorial Committee, said the group plans to decide this summer whether its $2.5 million design should be scaled back.

“We’ve only been seriously fund-raising for two years,” Ms. Corazza said last week. “We won’t know until July, when we re-evaluate where we are and then make the determination to talk to the families and consider a redesign.”

The uncertain national economy and the passage of time since the shootings six years ago, she said, may have contributed to the lack of interest among donors in helping to pay for the memorial.

Despite the financial disappointment, the committee is still planning a few local fund-raising activities, including an event featuring The King and His Court, a four-man softball team renowned for its showmanship.

Last year, former President Clinton spoke at a benefit for the memorial and helped raise $300,000.

But even if donations increase, the committee will still need an additional $500,000 to set up an endowment to pay for maintenance of the memorial, which is slated to be built in Clement Park, a local recreation area run by the Foothills Park and Recreation District adjacent to Columbine High School.

According to the design, visitors would be able to walk along multiple terraces in the memorial, enjoying the serenity of running water and an elaborate garden setting, while viewing smooth marble walls bearing inscriptions and quotations written by family members, fellow students, and the community to honor and remember the victims.

The committee originally had hoped to break ground on the memorial this year, with construction expected to take six to eight months. If the design needs to be scaled back, Ms. Corazza said, the committee will have to seek further advice from the families of the victims and survivors.

The shootings at the school on April 20, 1999, took the lives of 14 students, including the two student gunmen, and one teacher.