Lincoln Heights -- The green light has been given to an $850,000 update to a monument to AIDS victims in Lincoln Park.
City parks commissioners voted unanimously earlier this month to move forward with the renovation project. The improvements include new walkways, irrigation system, LED lighting and refurbishment of two gardens.
There were several meetings over the course of two years to gather community input for the new design, which cost approximately $850,000.
The group behind the memorial, The Wall Las Memorias, is an organization dedicated to providing HIV/AIDS, LGBT and substance abuse services in Los Angeles. It was founded in 1993 -- the same year the site in Lincoln Park was selected for the monument. However, opposition delayed the monument, which wasn’t dedicated until 2004.
The layout of the memorial—designed by architect Davis Angelo and artist Robin Braislford— was inspired by the Quetzalcoatl serpent, an Aztec symbol for rebirth.
Currently, the 9,000-square-foot memorial on the Mission Road side of the park has eight wall panels with six murals illustrating life with the illness as a Latino. The names of more 360 names people who lost their lives to the disease are etched into two granite panels.
Richard Zaldivar, founder and executive director of The Wall Las Memorias, plans to rededicate the AIDS monument to those who have died from it later this year.
“This beautiful proposed renovation will be the eternal place for us to remember the many loved ones lost to AIDS and the only national publicly funded AIDS monuments in the nation. Thank you to Councilman Gil Cedillo and Supervisor Hilda Solis for their support to our dream," said Zaldivar in a statement.
Zaldivar started the project after his best friend became HIV positive in 1990—a time when there was no effective treatment. He also realized there was hardly any outreach to Latinos about the disease, so Zaldivar made it his lifelong commitment to bringing HIV/AIDS awareness to Latinos.