A little girl lost will be rememberedBY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR Sirita’s playground coming to Lundeen Park When a child is lost unexpectedly, pain and anguish are greatly suffered by those who loved her but when she is lost tragically and abusively by one who is supposed to care for her, those who loved her try to make sense of the loss by coming together and bringing something positive out of it. This is exactly what is happening because of the terrible death of Sirita Sotelo.
Two and half years ago, on January 21, 2005, Sirita was killed in her home near Lundeen Park in Lake Stevens. She was not yet five years old.
On May 11, 2007 a new law was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire called “Sirita’s Law” which provides better protection and accountability for children in foster care who are then placed back into the hands of their biological parents.
Now community members are coming together to build a playground in her memory at Lundeen Park.
“We want people to understand the importance of Sirita’s Law, that something good has come out of her death,” Scotty Swift, Lake Stevens Public Works Coordinator said.
After Lake Stevens resident, Teresa Bannon contacted the city to see if they would be interested in making a memorial donation and putting a park bench or tree in Lundeen Park for Sirita, excitement grew.
“I decided that I didn’t want Lake Stevens to be known as the city where Sirita was murdered. I wanted Lake Sevens to be known as the city who will remember Sirita whose tragic and untimely death was not in vain,” Bannon said.
The park bench has turned into an entirely new playground for kids 18 months to six years old.
“Our vision is to put in a tot lot for younger children,” Swift said.
Right now the park has a playground with equipment intended for kids five to 12 years old. The new playground will sit nearby so that parents and caregivers can watch both playgrounds at the same time.
Other organizations quickly got involved and have donated not only money but many hours of labor to get the tot lot installed correctly and quickly. The hope right now is to have the playground equipment installed by the middle of September.
The Lake Steven Kiwanis, who “adopted” Lundeen Park, has donated $3,000 plus volunteer labor with the Lions Club, Rotary Club and American Legion also donating time and money. These organizations have also offered to donate profits from their week of running the concession stand at Lundeen Park.
The Fire Department has also asked to be involved and the City of Lake Stevens City is giving $6,000 to the project.
“We are honored to provide park opportunities for all of the children of Lake Stevens, especially in our adopted Lundeen Park,” Dave Minch, President of the Lake Stevens Kiwanis said.
The equipment is being purchased through SiteLines, a commercial playground equipment vendor whose President, Gary Max lives in Lake Stevens. Max is donating his time for installation supervision and a park bench.
The Aquafest Committee will be raffling off some great prizes and donating all of the money to Sirita’s Playground.
“Sirita’s death was a tragic event in our community and building a playground in her memory would provide many people with a positive way to celebrate and remember this special little girl,” Swift said.
Teresa Bannon has chosen a blooming Japanese Snowball Tree to be planted as Sirita’s Memorial Tree. The dedication ceremony will be hold Saturday, July 21 at Lundeen Park. Time to be determined.
There has been a Sirita’s Playground account set-up at Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Lake Stevens for those who would like to donate money for this project. If you are interested in donating time to install the playground equipment please contact Scotty Swift at the City of Lake Stevens at 425-334-1012.