CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Family, friends and others dedicated to the memory of fallen Cleveland police officer Derek Owens gathered Saturday morning to dedicate an 18,000-square-foot park in his memory. Owens died in the line of duty in 2008.
The public park, which will open in May next year, will sit in the city’s Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood, on the site where Owens died. What once was a site of tragedy has become a source of community, love and reflection.
Though the weather was frigid, more than 100 people came for the special occasion as children played on the fresh new playground. Public officials, donors and Owens’ father, who joked that he would wait to talk last so everyone would not cry during the whole dedication, took turns expressing their thoughts.
“It’s a memorial to Derek; that something will stand here over a long period of time,” his father said. “When I think about Derek I think about him in a sense that he was a son, he was a father, he was a husband, also he was a brother to his little muffin (sister). He was a son-in-law, he was a friend, he was a partner, and most of all, he was a child of God.”
The park is opening thanks to the efforts of the family, Cleveland Police Foundation, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Saint Luke’s Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, LAND studio, Cleveland Browns and dozens of others, Cleveland Police Captain Keith Sulzer.
The goal is to have a beautiful public space for everyone on the city’s East Side to “gather, relax and reflect,” the conservancy said.