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Brian Joseph Murphy Memorial Preservation Land (Westfield)
Dedicated to: Brian Murphy
Type of Memorial: Forest
Location: Off of Williams St
Country: United States
Open to Public: Yes
This preservation land is a memorial to Brian Murphy who was lost on September 11, 2001. His brother Harold worked with Kirt Gezotis, Kevin Sullivan, and Pablo Nyrady, three residents of Westfield, MA to preserve this key piece of open space in their community. With Harold as a conservation-minded developer living and working in the community in which he grew up and Brian having worked on preservation previously, this project is a way of carrying on Brian's legacy. "We wanted to preserve it the way it was," said Murphy. "It was our goal to put the land in preservation. This was the reason I brought it to Brian in the first place. It gives us access to Mary Noble's and the only city street nearby, and it will give us the river crossing. And Brian said 'good.'" The site will feature a bike and pedestrian greenway trail, active farming, and potentially a small memorial bench and garden.
Reason site was selected:
This site was the place in Westfield where Harold, Brian, and the other local kids used to go to be alone or congregate in nature. Even after reaching adulthood, Harold noted "every holiday, Brian would come home, we would drive along the dyke and talk. It would be where we would go to reconnect with what we had done as kids." It is a parcel of land at the natural heart of this community, adjacent to some of the oldest homesteads in the area, active farmland, and the country's first bicycle factory.
Events planned for site:
The rail-to-trail greenway will be used for hiking and biking once it is completed. Agricultural portions of the land have been used by shrub growers, while the surrounfing land is still farmed with shade tobacco. Harold Murphy indicated that a peace garden may be created that could be tended by children and would serve as a "living classroom."
Do you believe your memorial is a sacred place?:
"I do, but I always have. As a kid you come upon times when you need to be by yourself, and this is where I used to come and sit and come to my own grips with things. I know that if I come down here and walk around, I'm recharged. And I know that the world is good and life is going to go on. You know, I can hear my friends' voices and see the playing around that we used to do as kids. I feel it very strongly," said Harold Murphy.