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Just two months after Detective Dillon Stewart was slain in the line of duty near Ocean and Church Avenues, a movement is afoot to memorialize the late police officer in the community that he served. At the January meeting of Community Board 14s Community Environment Committee, which was held at the board office, 610 East 16th Street, board members present voted to recommend that the entire board commence the process of getting the playground at the Parade Ground renamed in honor of Stewart, who served in the 70th Precinct till he was gunned down on November 28, 2005, as he and his partner pursued a motorist who had run a red light. Many of us in the precinct have looked for ways to honor the memory of Detective Stewart, noted Robert Newman, one of the committees co-chairpeople. We thought, at the community board, that we would try to do something officially to honor Detective Stewart, by naming a widely-used piece of property in the precinct. There is some precedent for it. I wish there wasnt, that these things didnt happen to our heroic police officers. A variety of different locations were considered, said Terry Rodie, the boards district manager. Because the board area doesnt have, An abundance of parks, the options, she said, came down to the tot lot at Campus Road and East 21st Street and the playground at the Parade Ground, near the corner of East 17th Street and Parade Place, which is to be renovated in the near future. Certainly, that would be a place that would be appropriate, Rodie opined. Of the two sites, the Parade Ground playground, because of its proximity to the place where Detective Stewart was killed, would have more resonance, suggested board member Monica MacAdams. I think the Parade Ground site is really ideal, agreed Alvin Berk, the boards chairperson, who added, As much as it pains me for the board to have to do this because of what it means, I think its a fitting tribute. Board member Barbara Sheeran concurred. Its just delightful there, she remarked. The children enjoy it so much and I cant think of a better memorial for Detective Stewart. It is fitting to put it in the park because that kind of encompasses the meaning of his life, added board member Lori Knipel. Having a meaningful memorial is key, said Father Michael Perry of Our Lady of Refuge. This is a man who died for us, he stressed. We are too quick to remember the bad and forget the good. This is an absolute good that cost him his life. He was beloved by everybody, added board member Joseph Dweck, who said that given our fleeting sense of history he would like to see, at the site of the memorial, A plaque that sad he loved and protected this city and its people, that focuses on the life rather than the death. It is important for people to remember why things are named, agreed Tupper Thomas, the Prospect Park administrator, who said that a ceremony commemorating Detective Stewart could take place in the context of either a groundbreaking at the playground or at a ribbon-cutting. Deputy Inspector Thomas Harris, the commanding officer of the 70th Precinct, reported, two days after the meeting, that he had spoken both to officers at the precinct and to Detective Stewarts family and everyone was, Enthusiastic about the possibility. Officers at the precinct concurred. I would love it, said Police Officer Kim Berry, who said she had spoken with a group of other officers at the precinct. I think it would honor his name. I definitely think everybody would be honored to have that section named for him. Obviously, every person in the place is going to be very happy about it, added Police Officer Joseph Coll. According to Rodie, with the committee supporting the idea, a public hearing would be held, at the next meeting, board members would vote on the proposal. A public hearing could be held, she said, or it could be waived. Then, the next step, she said, would be to ask the City Council to initiate the name change. Once the name change was signed into law by the mayor, Rodie added, the board would, Do an appropriate, fitting ceremony there at the park, to honor Detective Stewart in any way we possibly can.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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