EVERETT — When Tina Boitano wants to remember her grandmother, she only needs to sit for a while at Forest Park.
Not far from the playground is a bench dedicated to the memory of Jo Fagan, a longtime Snohomish County resident who died in 2009.
“I’ve sat there contemplating my grandma,” the Snohomish woman said. “I’ve felt her spirit.”
It’s one of several dozen memorial benches scattered through the city parks system — part of a burgeoning program that enables people to make gifts to Everett’s parks in the name of a loved one.
The city only has several benches left available for memorials, said Jeff Price, a business manager for Everett parks. The price is $2,500 and it includes a plaque. The city handles upkeep.
Benches are just a small part of what the city is offering. People can contribute money to a youth scholarship fund that pays for activities for low-income children or sponsor a city event like a 5K race.
Starting this year, families also can donate money for park projects: playgrounds, picnic shelters, sports fields or trails. No one yet has taken advantage of the expanded program, Price said.
Gifts of $500 or less can go to caring for trees, flowers or shrubs.
People can also bequeath larger gifts to the city, including real estate.
Donations are managed through the Greater Everett Foundation, a private nonprofit.
Price doesn’t see a downside for the city or for taxpayers. “It’s a win for everyone in the community,” he said.
The concept is not new. In fact, that’s how Cheril Fagan got the idea to buy the Forest Park bench for her mother.
Cheril Fagan lives in California, and she knew of similar programs there. She wanted to leave a lasting reminder of her mother, Jo, who died at age 82. Since Jo Fagan has no grave marker, the bench is a physical reminder of her life.
Cheril Fagan is tickled by the thought of all those mothers resting on the bench while their children play nearby.
“You can look down into a little valley,” she said. “It’s a very nice spot.”
Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about supporting parks through the Greater Everett Foundation, go to www.ci.everett.wa.us/parks.