ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Recreation & Parks Director Nicholas Mooneyhan today broke ground on the COVID-19 memorial and sculpture at Meadowbrook Park and Athletic Complex in Ellicott City. The memorial will consist of three main elements: a grove of native birch trees, a seating area surrounding a water fountain, and a sculpture. Pictures from the event can be found here.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected all of us in ways that we may never be able to adequately express. In a matter of days, our lives changed drastically, and we lost so many to this deadly virus. As we continue to mourn and heal, Howard County residents will now have a quiet space where they can come, reflect, and feel at peace. It will honor those we have lost and those who selflessly sacrificed during the pandemic. This project is part of the healing process as our community regroups from the tragedies surrounding the pandemic and it empowers us to come together to celebrate all that we have accomplished.
Forty-two birch trees were selected due to their symbolism of new beginnings and growth. They are native, attractive, and easily adapt to Maryland’s environment and various soils. The trees are fast growing, have beautiful, curling bark, and their spreading limbs provide excellent shade.
“This memorial incorporates a thoughtful design that focuses on a space for quiet reflection,” said Nicholas Mooneyhan, Director of Howard County Recreation and Parks. “This space will allow all our residents to reflect upon those we have lost, including our very own Laura Wetherald, while also reminding us that there are brighter days ahead.”
The fountain will be made of polished black granite and will reflect the adjacent trees and surroundings, even when the water is not flowing in the winter. Landscape beds with colorful and fragrant flowers will surround the feature and seating area to brighten the area and add to the serene setting.
Had this been different time or perhaps even a different hospital visit, my family would not hesitate to show up 20 deep and stand with my dad as he recovered from his illness. But the pandemic was a different time. Not only was nobody allowed to be in the hospital with him as he went through COVID induced pneumonia in his lungs, but he also had to die there alone. My family had to watch my father take his final breaths over facetime, as the hospital policy at the time did not allow us to visit someone that had the virus. I’m grateful to have this memorial where we can cherish the memory and legacy my dad left behind.
A sculpture will be commissioned and then placed by the path and seating area. It will commemorate all those who were lost to COVID-19 and will honor those who worked so hard to bring help, relief, and aid.
"I am deeply grateful to the County for creating a memorial that will provide a physical manifestation of our shared grief and loss,” said Christiana Rigby, Howard County Council Chair. “The memorial garden will be a powerful symbol of our community's resilience and a reminder of the strength that comes from coming together in times of difficulty."
The first tree was planted today at the groundbreaking ceremony. Another fifteen trees will be planted this November by the contractor Environmental Maintenance. The remaining twenty-six trees will be planted by or before May 1, 2024. The walkways, benches and fountain will be completed by early Summer 2024. The sculpture is currently scheduled for Spring 2025.
“I hope that this memorial will serve as a place of reflection for the dedicated array of health workers, volunteers, partners and public across our community and stand as a testament to their resilience and unwavering spirit during this unprecedented worldwide health challenge” said Antigone Vickery, Howard County Deputy Health Officer.
According to state data, Howard County has reported nearly 66,963 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in 2020. There have been more than 472 confirmed deaths in the county. Additionally, the state has reported more than 1.4 million cases, which has resulted in more than 16,809 deaths.
“Those of us who endured the darkest moments of the pandemic emerged stronger, but we must never forget those we lost along the way,” said Robert Smeltzer, Deputy Chief, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. “Their memory and legacy live on within each of us.”
About Meadowbrook Park:
Meadowbrook Park is located alongside the Meadowbrook Athletic Complex (MAC) at 5001 Meadowbrook Lane in Ellicott City. The park includes baseball fields, a large playground for all abilities, tennis courts, basketball courts and about 2.5 miles of sidewalks and pathways that circle the park.
The MAC is a destination for indoor basketball, volleyball, field hockey, badminton, jump rope and much more! The facility houses 35,000 square feet of unobstructed gymnasium space designed to serve all ages and all levels of play.