EVERETT — Tucked away in a grove at McCollum Park, the Snohomish County DUI Victims Memorial Wall was once a place where family members and loved ones of victims could grieve.
But now, widower Tony Mace said drug use and transients have rendered the area less-than-desirable for quiet reflection. The remote location also means many aren’t aware the memorial exists.
That’s why Jan Schemenauer, the county’s DUI victim panel coordinator, has proposed moving it to the Snohomish County campus in downtown Everett.
“The first time I went down to the wall, I was, for lack of a better word, appalled,” she said at a County Council meeting Tuesday morning. “I thought the emotion behind it was most sincere, but I felt that the location was horrible.”
Schemenauer’s husband was killed by an impaired driver 40 years ago. They had been married for five months.
“I feel that the more we put (the memorial) in the front, rather than in the back, is the only way we’ll get change to occur,” she said.
The wall was built in 2001 and has 143 names on it.
At Tuesday’s meeting, a handful of survivors came to discuss why they support moving the memorial.
Mace lost his wife of two years and high school sweetheart, Cinnamon Mace, in 1992.
He’s thought about putting her name on the wall a couple of times, but “it’s not a location I would go to to remember her,” he said.
Mace, now a county firefighter, said he’d like to see the wall honor victims in a welcoming public place, similar to a war memorial.
“It’s comparable to me because of the tragedy of the loss,” he said. “I think the DUI wall should be as meaningful, as impactful and as public of a location.”
James Snow, who lost his brother, Peter John Snow, in 1994, said he doesn’t mind the wall’s location. Peter’s name was added in 2015.
“But the couple of times I’ve been back to visit I’ve found things on the wall that are just horrible and go against what the wall was meant to be, almost like a slap in the face,” he said. “So I’ve kind of stopped going, and I think that’s a tragedy.”
Schemenauer said the wall has been marked with graffiti, and people have written names on empty tiles.
In a more central location like the Snohomish County government campus, Snow said the wall could serve as a reminder and a lesson to those who walk past it.
County Councilmember Sam Low directed staff to look into potential alternative locations for the monument.
They’ll be speaking with the families of those whose names are on the wall to make sure the move would serve everyone involved, Low said. It will likely be several months before the topic comes back to the council, he said.
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.