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Park designed to Remember Our Children
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This is an artist’s rendition of a splash pad at ROC Park, to be built next to the new Madeira Beach Recreation Center. Construction is expected to begin in mid-September.
MADEIRA BEACH – Plans were unveiled last week at city hall for a 3,000-foot memory park that will be added to the city’s new $10 million municipal complex.

ROC Park, which stands for Remember Our Children, is the concept of Bill Karns of Indian Shores. Plans call for a linear park along Boca Ciega Bay that will feature a waterfall, splash pad and a butterfly reflection garden connected by a brick paver walkway with plenty of benches along the way.

“This is not a sad or solemn park,” said Karns, who lost a 26-year-old son 18 months ago. “It’s a park to celebrate the lives of the children that we’ve lost.”

Madeira Beach City Manager Shane Crawford concurred.

“This is not going to be a morbid, cemetery type of environment,” Crawford said. “It’s going to be a happy place to come and remember.”

The park, designed by Wannemacher Jensen Architects, is expected to break ground in mid-September and be complete by mid-January in conjunction with the opening of the city’s Municipal Center.

The project has come to fruition in about three months.

“The community has really gotten behind this,” said Karns, who has business interests in Treasure Island and St. Petersburg. “I’ve already raised $500,000 and our goal is $700,000. Once it’s complete, it will help thousands of families and give them a place to memorialize the loss of a child.”

Plans call for the sale of memorial bricks, and a lovelock tree. Benches and places to meditate and recall will dot the brick walkway.

“I feel so blessed this is all coming together,” said Karns. “It can help a lot of people and their families get through the grieving process.”

Among the major contributors have been Home Depot, the Mike Alstott Foundation and the Michael Hano Family Foundation. Others that have been major contributors include Flagstone Pavers, Jen Holloway of Great38-TV, Julie Weintraub, Furniture Depot and Curtis Pools.

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