On Monday, April 4, the City of Sparks announced that it is working on two projects along the Sparks Marina walking path that residents and visitors should be aware of.
The most prominent project is located on the south side of the Sparks Marina next to the dog park, where the new Sparks Marina Pet Memorial Project is being installed. The Pet Memorial is an interactive art structure designed to pay homage to lost friendships by allowing people to attach pet collars and tags in remembrance. The City’s new art piece is accompanied by an original poem written by Stacy Gnall about the loss of a pet.
The idea for this new public art structure came about in 2019 when City of Sparks Special Events Supervisor Francine Burge was walking on the Steamboat Ditch Trail in Reno and noticed that people were putting dog tags and collars on the chain link fence next to it. She thought about the tradition of people attaching padlocks to the monument in Lovers Lock Plaza in Lovelock, Nevada, as well as to a famous bridge in Paris, and thought that an idea like this next to the dog park at the Sparks Marina would work well for the area.
Therefore, in 2019, the City of Sparks held an open call for literary artists asking people to submit original poems about the loss of a pet. The City received 33 submissions with the idea that the winning poem would be engraved on the steel art structure. The entries went in front of a panel of literary teachers, poets, and Washoe County librarians who chose the top three entries. It was then reviewed by the public who picked the winner.
“This is the first commissioned piece of literature for this City,” Burge says. She adds that this also happens to be nice timing for the installment of the Pet Memorial because Gnall recently published a poetry collection titled Dogged, centered around animals. Gnall is a Sparks resident who teaches at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the commission for her poem was gifted by City of Sparks’ partner, the Pyramid Veterinary Hospital.
The structure itself was designed by local volunteer Paul Frenkel and fabricated by local artist Jeff Schomberg, whose “Believe,” “Love,” and “Home” art structures are placed at the city plaza in Reno, Renown Medical Center, and Greater Nevada Credit Union Field.
The structure is about five feet tall, and Gnall’s poem is laser cut into the steel on one side of it, and the other side is a grid where people can place their pet collars, tags, and memorabilia.
“Anyone can add to it, and we hope that it fills up,” Burge says.
The installation is expected to be completed by April 8th and an unveiling/dedication event for it will be held on April 18th where Gnall will give a reading from Dogged followed by a ceremony where City officials and staff will place tags on the grid.
“This has been a long time coming and it will be nice to see it finally installed. We felt that this was an important project for our residents to honor and remember these beloved relationships that leave us with lasting memories. Combining that with the City’s desire to showcase art in unique ways, it all came together beautifully,” Burge adds.
On the east side of the Sparks Marina behind the Hampton Inn and Suites, the pathway will be closed for repairs. A gap was created between the concrete retaining near the homes next to the Hampton Inn and the pathway that leads pedestrians to those homes, so concrete is being poured with a thicker edge to lock it into place. Path users will be rerouted around the construction zone through the parking lot behind Harbour Cove Court. This portion of the path is expected to be completed this week.
For more information about these Sparks Marina projects, visit https:// www.cityofsparks.us/.