Ridgefield plans memorial for residents who died with COVID

Ridgefield's Commission on Aging is planning to install a commemorative plaque somewhere in town to remember the residents who died of COVID-19.

Ridgefield’s Commission on Aging is planning to install a commemorative plaque somewhere in town to remember the residents who died of COVID-19.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

RIDGEFIELD — The Commission on Aging is planning to memorialize the residents who died from COVID-19-related deaths. A placard will serve as a foot marker at the base of a tree that will be planted.

Debra Franceschini, secretary of the commission, which identifies the needs of Ridgefield’s older adults and coordinates services to enhance their quality of life, said it “made sense” to honor those who died since a “high number” of the town’s COVID-related deaths were older adults.

“We talked about several different ideas that would be respectful … and determined that the best thing to do would be to put a tree somewhere visible,” she said.

Commission members searching for the appropriate site to eventually plant the tree. Potential locations include Ballard Green, open space in front of the library or Jesse Lee Church or near the 9/11 monument on Danbury Road.

The commission will use grant money from a local foundation to buy a placard, which will be installed along with the tree next summer, “if not sooner,” Franceschini said.

News of the commemoration coincides with the delta variant causing another surge in COVID-19 cases locally and nationwide.

“At this point, (the project) is reminding people that this is a highly contagious and serious virus that can have devastating consequences and we cannot forget that,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “That’s obviously proven by the loss of the people who died in our community as a result — some of them would still be alive today, enjoying life.”

Since one of Franceschini’s neighbors died with COVID-19, she believes the placard will provide families and loved ones a sense of comfort amid their grief.

“(It’s) important to have people know that we care about them and they’re not alone at this time,” she said. “It should still be something we recognize.”

As of Wednesday, 61 Ridgefield residents have died with COVID-19 since March 2020.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com