A new park in Springfield, Massachusetts is being named to honor two city police officers killed in the line of duty more than three decades ago.
An emotional groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday at the site where construction is already underway on the park that will include a full-size soccer field, two practice fields, a children’s playground, and a memorial garden in memory of slain officers Alain Beauregard and Michael Schiavina.
The ceremony attended by city officials, current and retired police officers and family members took place almost 32 years to the day since Beauregard and Schiavina were fatally shot during a traffic stop Nov. 12th, 1985.
Beauregard’s widow, Doris Beauregard-Shecrallah, said the city of Springfield has never forgotten its fallen officers.
" Thanksgiving is around the corner and I have so many things to be thankful for," she said.
She said she hoped the park would remind people of how the two officers lived, not how they died.
"They were family men, and this park is going to be all about families," said Beauregard-Shecrallah.
Maura Schiavina, a retired Massachusetts State Trooper, recalled that after being informed her brother had been shot, she raced to the hospital where she said it seemed like the entire city police force was standing vigil.
She thanked the dozens of current and retired police officers who came to Monday’s groundbreaking.
"This is the stuff that helps heal, the stuff that helps us move forward," said Schiavina.
The park construction is being paid for with a $400,000 grant from the state, $200,000 in funds the city earmarked from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, $150,000 in city funds, and $150,000 raised by the annual “Ride to Remember” bicycle ride event.
Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney, who organizes the fundraising bicycle ride, was a friend of both slain officers.
" I know if my name was on the monument one of those guys who were my friends would step up to the plate and do something," said Delaney.
Delaney said he noticed two years ago that a soccer field in another part of the city that had been named in the officers’ memory had fallen badly into disrepair and so he began advocating for the new complex that is being built next to an elementary school in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood.
" This is going to be here for generations, and I know Alain and Michael are smiling today," said Delaney. "This is a long time coming for two heroes who gave their lives for the citizens of Springfield."
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said naming the park in honor of the two officers is a fitting tribute for the ultimate sacrifice they made.
" It is going to highlight what our police officers do, and what 'blue' is all about," said Sarno. " I consider them sentinels of peace."
The construction timetable calls for the soccer fields to be grass-seeded this June and then ready for play in the spring of 2019.