Construction Plans for Willowbrook Park Memorial for Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller Move Forward Capital Campaign Is Close to Reaching Funding Goal!
Pictured: Reps from AGC, K&D Landscaping, Granite Construction, Graniterock, XL Construction present check to Deputy Sheriffs Assn, County Park Friends and County Parks
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted last Tuesday to accept funds from County Park Friends for the Willowbrook Park Memorial in honor of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. These privately raised funds, paired with significant contributions from the County of Santa Cruz, will be used to construct a memorial seating area as part of a phased construction process at Willowbrook Park. Plans also include an eternal flagpole, park signage, revamped pickleball courts, and a new and more-inclusive play structure and play surfacing. County Parks will begin the bidding process for this phase in the coming weeks. Sgt. Gutzwiller, who was killed in the line of duty on June 6, 2020, was a 14-year veteran of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. He owned his first home in the Willowbrook neighborhood and frequented the park with his family and dog, Shasta. This memorial seating area and eternally flown flag will serve as a place of reflection for his loved ones and the greater community. “Damon’s dedication and sacrifice to his community will be forever felt in this space,” said Parks Superintendent Rebecca Hurley. “Through the generosity of our local partners, this memorial is set to break ground before the end of 2022.” Through a collaborative effort by Santa Cruz County Parks, County Park Friends, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, and the Second District Supervisor’s Office the capital campaign is in its final stages. Recent generous donations from the community have included a $20,000 donation from Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California and its member contractors Granite Construction, Graniterock, and XL Construction. The upcoming Boardwalk Chili Cookoff on October 22 will designate a portion of the event’s proceeds to the memorial. To date, over $300,000 has been raised and less than $100,000 remains to reach the funding goal! If you would like to make a donation to help complete this community-lead effort to create a space to remember Damon, please visit www.countyparkfriends.org/willowbrook for more information.
Kaiser Permanente Donates $25,000 to Sgt. Gutzwiller Willowbrook Park Memorial up
County Park Friends is honored to announce Kaiser Permanente has provided a $25,000 grant to support the memorial for Santa Cruz County Sheriff Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller. Sergeant Gutzwiller was killed in the line of duty on June 6, 2020 and is survived by his partner and two young children. The memorial will be constructed at Willowbrook County Park in Aptos as the park was a favorite place for them to visit. “Kaiser Permanente is honored to stand alongside so many community leaders in supporting this memorial,” said Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente Central Coast. “Willowbrook has long provided a safe, welcoming environment and this effort honoring Sgt. Gutzwiller will ensure the park remains this way for years to come.” Kaiser Permanente’s donation is the latest demonstration of local support for the memorial which includes building a seating area, a new flagpole, a more accessible playground and other park improvements. “We are honored to have the support of Kaiser Permanente in getting us closer to making this project a reality,” said Sheriff Sergeant. Nicholas Baldrige, who is helping to lead the fundraising campaign. “It is organizations like this that show the support and dedication to honoring and remembering the sacrifice made by Damon for this community.” In June, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to allocate $100,000 in support of the Sgt. Gutzwiller Memorial. They also voted to rename the park, “Willowbrook County Park in Honor of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.” “With every contribution of time, energy and capital this becomes more of a community project, a community park,” said Supervisor Zach Friend, “This contribution, like so many others from our community before it, shows how this park can be a catalyst for positive change and how we can create a lasting legacy.” County Park Friends encourages community members wishing to support the memorial to visit www.countyparkfriends.org. Opportunities to sponsor memorial elements including personalized bricks and pavers are still available. For questions, email email@example.com
Willowbrook Park renamed in honor of Sgt Damon Gutzwiller
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to rename Willowbrook County Park after Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who was killed in the line of the duty on June 6, 2020. Willowbrook County Park in Honor of Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller is located in Aptos, and was frequented by Gutzwiller and his family, who live in the area. The Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Santa Cruz County Parks Department and County Park Friends are working with the community to raise funding for significant park renovations in Gutzwiller’s memory. Although more than $250,000 has already been raised, park funding goals have yet to be met. “The park will provide a place for his family, friends and our broader community to come reflect and share in the beauty of this special place. It’s a park that held deep meaning to Damon and his family and now we are reimaging the park in a way that’s befitting of his honor,” Supervisor Zach Friend said. “Damon’s dedication and love for this county was clear to anyone who worked with him, far before his tragic death forever cemented his selfless commitment,” said Sgt. Steve Ryan, close friend and coworker of Sgt. Gutzwiller. “It is my hope that those who visit this park will see his name and be reminded of the commitment and sacrifice Damon made, while thinking fondly of my friend and brother.” County Parks recently completed updates to the sports courts area. Additional updates include a new, more inclusive play area with new play surfacing, the construction and installation of a memorial seating area on the south side of the pedestrian walkway bridge, park entry enhancements and a new flagpole. For more information or to learn more about opportunities to participate in this project please visit www.countyparkfriends.org/willowbrook.