The Mound City Council has voted to name a local bridge after a 6-year-old boy who was found slain in the trunk of his mother's car in May.
The council unanimously agreed to name the bridge across a channel of Lake Minnetonka after Eli Hart, whose body was found May 20 with shotgun wounds. His mother, Julissa Thaler, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder and remains jailed with a $2 million bail.
"It was an incomprehensible tragedy and act that happened in our small town," Mayor Raymond J. Salazar said at a council meeting this month.
At a vigil a week after Eli's death, he said, people prayed for Eli and his family as well as for "the health and the well-being and the repair of our city and our citizens."
The boy's family consented to the request, the council's resolution said.
Eli's death followed a custody dispute between Thaler and Eli's father, Tory Hart. When authorities considered granting custody to Hart, Thaler accused him of domestic abuse. She had received custody of Eli less than two weeks before police stopped her car, noticed blood and found Eli's body.
The bridge, which is currently unnamed, crosses Lake Minnetonka's Seton Channel on County Road 15, or Shoreline Drive, between Spring Park and Mound.
Because it's a county road, the Hennepin County Board must approve the council's resolution.
A petition to name the bridge after Eli drew more than 2,300 signatures, including some from around the country, said Jay Nygard of Orono, who announced and linked to the petition in a YouTube video.
In the video, Nygard suggests naming the bridge after Eli "so his story is never, ever forgotten."
But some lake-area residents said they would prefer designating a playground, bench or tree in honor of the boy. Others suggested naming community-service projects, such as a backpack or toy drive.
"Why are we renaming the bridge after a traumatizing and horrible event like this?" said Brian Lieder of Mound. "What do I tell my kids when they ask why the bridge is named 'Eli'? This was an event to move on from, not memorialize."
But Elise Kohls of Minnetonka argued that naming the bridge for the slain boy "would remind people to keep pushing for a better system to protect children."
"For those who are opposed," she said, "I would say, if Eli's dad is OK with it, then let's do it."