Two years ago, Crystal gave its flagship park a major makeover by replacing an outdated amphitheater, playground equipment and softball fields with an inclusive playground, splash pad and performance area.
But Barway Collins, who lived across the street from Becker Park, never got to see it.
A Crystal couple are leading an effort to raise money for a memorial to be placed in the park to honor the 10-year-old boy, who was murdered by his father six years ago.
"Barway would have enjoyed the park," said Jeff Kolb, a former Crystal City Council member who is leading the fundraiser with his wife, Erin, who sits on the city's parks commission. "This is a way to take that shared tragedy as a community and turn it into something positive and joyous."
Kolb, working in concert with the city, hopes to raise $15,000 to pay for a life-size bronze statue of Barway that will sit atop a pedestal. So far about 80 people have collectively donated $4,900. Individuals or groups who donate $500 or more will be recognized on a bronze plate on the back side of the pedestal, Kolb said.
Kolb had just joined the City Council when Barway was murdered. He disappeared March 18, 2015, after getting off the school bus outside the Crystal apartment he shared with his father. Community members held vigils and searched for Barway, who was found about two weeks later in the Mississippi River, his body bound with duct tape.
Barway's father, Pierre Collins, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Kolb said he wanted to do something at that time to honor the boy, but it "was too raw to do anything." The idea, however, never left his mind. The Kolbs, who describe themselves as big park fans, were reinspired after taking a trip to Florida in January and visiting a park filled with bronze statues.
"I thought, where could we put one in Becker Park?" Kolb said, noting the long-range plan for the park calls for a trail featuring art installations. "It would be a great thing, something meaningful for the community."
Crystal spent $3 million to renovate the park at 5530 N. Douglas Drive, and it reopened last spring.
Kolb said he is working with artists on proposals for the monument, which will stand about 54 inches tall. He's also working with the city to determine where in the park it will be placed.
Tax deductible donations can be made online or by sending a check to the City of Crystal.
"My hope is that next summer we can have a dedication," Kolb said.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768