As the one-year anniversary of Jessica Ridgeway’s death draws near, the residents of Westminster continue to band together to support one another in the community’s loss. The most recent effort was a volunteer day at Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park, where 140 volunteers worked to complete some finishing touches.
For months work has been done on the park, which was formerly known as Chelsea Park, at 10765 Moore St., and soon it will be complete and open to the public. On Aug. 17, volunteers worked in two-hour shifts, spreading safety-surface mulch throughout the park. Patti Wright, volunteer coordinator for the city of Westminster, said the project was not an easy one; volunteers put down 560 cubic yards, laying it 12 inches deep.
“It was a lot of work, but I know with the volunteers we had that it would be done,” she said. “I also wasn’t a bit surprised to have so many people volunteer their time because the city volunteers always do such great work.”
During the previous weekend, Wright said, all of the new playground equipment was installed by 40 volunteers and city staff. The old equipment was donated to Kids Around the World, an organization that refurbishes playgrounds to be used in countries overseas.
“People have really come together to make this happen, and it feels good to see everything come together like it has,” Wright said.
Vanessa DeMott and her daughter, Layla Iverson, were just two of the many volunteers working in the heat Saturday. Iverson was a classmate of Jessica’s since the third grade. She had a role in the design of the park, and her suggestion to include a chrysalis piece in the park’s final design was accepted.
“Before Oct. 5., Jessica was going to do a report on dragonflies, and she was fascinated with butterflies,” Iverson said. “So I had the idea to have a chrysalis in the park. And here it is.”
When the opportunity to volunteer for the park popped up, DeMott said, she knew instantly that she wanted to be involved and bring along her daughter and her husband. She said she appreciated the fact that the city is allowing the community to be part of the park process because in a way “everyone is able to grieve the loss together.”
“Jessica was a part of this community and a part of our life, and it means so much to be able to do this,” she said.
Not only have people in the community donated time, but also thousands of dollars to pay for the new park. One major donation to the $450,000 park was a $50,000 grant from Colorado Garden Show Inc.
Many other agencies and individuals, including Jefferson County, have made donations for the park that will be an enduring memorial to a girl whose joyful spirit touched so many.
A formal park dedication ceremony will be announced by the city when a date is established.
Jessica was last seen by her mother on Oct. 5 as she was walking to school. She was on her way to the park to meet a friend before heading to school when she was abducted by Austin Sigg and later killed. Sigg has admitted to the abduction and the murder, but has pleaded not guilty. Opening statements in Sigg’s trial are scheduled for Oct. 3, just two days before the one-year anniversary of Jessica’s disappearance.