Monies raised through several different fundraisers were appropriated by the West Hartford Town Council Tuesday night to construct an outdoor classroom at Westmoor Park to honor the memory of Brigid Curtin.
By Ronni Newton
Tim Curtin and Jane Murphy addressed the West Hartford Town Council Tuesday night, expressing their sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with various fundraisers as well in the development of plans to honor the memory of their daughter, Brigid Curtin, through the construction of an outdoor classroom at her favorite place – Westmoor Park.
Construction of the outdoor classroom will begin in April, and should be completed in time for campers to use it at the beginning of July. All costs will be paid by donated funds – raised by about 800 donors – at no cost to taxpayers.
Tom Daly, a civil engineer with Milone and MacBroom, donated his time and resources to design the 24-by-44-foot solid timber frame structure, which will be open on all four sides and have a metal roof.
Curtin said that in the 15 years he and Murphy have been residents of West Hartford, they have appreciated the town’s diversity, dedication to the needs of its residents, and its rich New England character.
“My family embraced all the town has to offer – feeling very fortunate to enjoy so many friends and wonderful experiences as town residents,” he said.
“On December 17th of 2018, an unimaginable tragedy struck our family and affected the entire West Hartford community. The outpouring of support has been nothing short of remarkable and has sustained our family through this very difficult period. When the events of December struck, many people reached out to ask what they could do to support our family and to honor our daughter, Brigid. Without hesitation, our response was to support Westmoor Park. Brigid loved Westmoor. She embraced everything the park has to offer. Brigid was a girl who wasn’t afraid to get messy, motivating her fellow campers to get the dirty work done early – like the weekly cleaning of the farm stalls – so they could have fun later. She was hopeful to become a counselor-in-training when she was old enough and, eventually, a counselor and instructor,” Curtin said.
The counselors and staff at Westmoor Park helped guide them to the multi-functional outdoor classroom as a fitting project, Curtin said, “an assembly and pick-up area for campers, a place to get out of sun, to take refuge in from a passing summer storm, and to conduct classes and seminars. It will be a beautiful and highly functional structure. Brigid would have been so excited to see this wonderful addition to the park.”
Mayor Shari Cantor read a proclamation, recognizing and thanking the friends and family for their donations.
The proclamation noted how Brigid experienced the “full beauty of Westmoor Park and all it had to offer,” participated in every farm and nature program she could, and loved working with the animals, and the “independence the park provided her and the relationship she developed with all the campers, counselors, and instructors.”
She noted that Brigid was looking forward to becoming a counselor in training and helping create memories for the next generation of campers.
Westmoor Park had determined the need for an outdoor classroom to enhance Westmoor Park’s eco-adventure program and protect campers and students during inclement weather, and on Nov. 6, 2019, the Town Planning and Zoning Commission (TPZ) granted a special use permit for the addition to the park, and committed to raising funds.
“When Brigid’s family and friends learned of the effort to raise funds for this three-season outdoor classroom and shelter at the park, they believed that this would be a special way that they could help honor Brigid’s memory,” Cantor said.
Murphy also addressed the Council and Westmoor Park staff and volunteers who came out to support them Tuesday night.
She said that while they can’t begin to properly thank everyone who made the outdoor classroom a reality, she and Curtin thanked all of their friends and the residents of West Hartford.
She offered special thanks to all who donated through the GoFundMe, Feast on the Farm, her generous colleagues from the State Capitol, and those who donated directly to Westmoor Park in support of Brigid; Laura and Dan Moran and Dan and Kelly Clark of Johnny’s Jog (which is raising funds for the outdoor classroom this year); Brigid’s friends, fellow campers and the CITs, counselors, and instructors at Westmoor Park; Tom Daly, vice president of Milone & MacBroom who has donated all of the engineering services for the Outdoor Classroom; Deb Forand; Tracy Daly; Mary and Chuck Coursey; Director of Social and Leisure Services Helen Rubino-Turco; Doug Jackson and Christy Page of Westmoor Park; Tammy Bradley and Mike Longo from the Town of West Hartford; West Hartford TPZ, and Mayor Cantor and the entire Town Council.
“Obviously this is a very bittersweet moment for Tim and I,” Murphy said. “And we are very excited to be adding this project to the town. As Tim said, Brigid would be very excited to have a classroom and we wished she would have had the opportunity to be using it.”
The combination of funds raised through the Friends of Brigid Curtin at Westmoor Park GoFundMe campaign, Feast on the Farm, and donations directly to Westmoor Park in Brigid Curtin’s memory now totals about $220,000, and Town Manager Matt Hart told the Council that the staff and Brigid’s family agree that the construction of the outdoor classroom would be a fitting project to benefit from those funds.
With additional funds pledged, it’s expected that about $250,000 will ultimately be raised.
The Town Council unanimously passed the resolution Tuesday appropriating the funds, and gave Murphy and Curtin a standing ovation for their efforts.
“This is a very meaningful contribution out of a really, very difficult time. For people to come together and do such good, we really sincerely appreciate the joy and shelter that it will give so many students,” Cantor said.
The Richard P. Garmany and Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb funds at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving have generously offered to match dollar for dollar the next $12,500 raised – which should help bring the full $250,000 goal closer to reality. For more information on donating, visit Friends of Brigid Curtin at Westmoor Park.
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