Mound approves playground to honor Eli Hart, a 6-year-old killed by his mother
The Mound community took a big step towards healing following city leaders approving plans to build a playground to honor Eli Hart.
Last year, Hart was six years old when he was shot and killed by his mother. Shortly after his death, a foundation was created in his honor to help fundraise to eventually build the Eli Hart Memorial Playground.
“The three of us said, we need to do something about it,” said Ben Colianni, one of the co-founders of the Eli Hart Foundation.
With the help of community members, local businesses and organizations, Colianni and the foundation raised nearly $300,000 that was donated to the city of Mound to build the playground at the city’s Surfside Park.
“[Eli’s family is] so beside themselves that there will be a long-lasting memorial,” Colianni said as he choked up. “They’re very, very grateful.”
Tuesday, the Mound city council and mayor approved the final plans for the playground. Mayor Jason Holt said while everyone wanted the playground to become a reality, there was some pushback on the details.
Council member Kathy McEnaney expressed her concerns with how big the final plans were and shared that she did not like how it took away from the green space of the park.
In the end, the city agreed to pay a funding gap of up to $120,000. Mayor Holt said the final price was more expensive than expected, pointing to construction costs and the planned rubber flooring. Part of that gap will be paid for from the city’s profits from its municipal liquor store.
Plans to break ground are set for the spring of 2024, with it ready to be used in time for the summer.
“This is going to be available for them, and teachers and classmates to come whenever they want. And any family in the future to make memories with kids of their own,” Colianni said.