A group of town officials met with members of the Dellefratte family last week to discuss the creation of a family memorial at corner of Prince’s Hill Avenue and Foote Street.
It was about a month ago when Mike Dellefratte and his father asked the town council for permission to construct the memorial, honoring the family’s decades of service to the town; many of the Dellefrattes worked at the Barrington Department of Public Works.
Mr. Dellefratte and his father, who is known as Razzy, also petitioned the council to have the town pay between $4,500 and $5,000 for the memorial.
No one from the council made a motion to approve the request, but Barrington Manager Peter DeAngelis offered to review the family’s plan and try to find something workable. He said he didn’t want to see the Dellefratte family sent away from the council meeting feeling angry.
On Tuesday, April 30, Mr. DeAngelis, council president June Speakman and three officials from the department of public works met with the Dellefrattes at the site of the proposed memorial to further discuss the idea and work on the plan.
“We wanted to get a sense of what might be done there…” said Ms. Speakman. “We did want to hear what the Dellefrattes had to say.”
Ms. Speakman said she feels “more positive” toward the family’s proposal than some other members of the council. As liaison to the Barrington Park and Recreation Commission, Ms. Speakman had the opportunity to review the plan when the Dellefrattes brought it before that board.
“The Dellefrattes have a point that there are other memorials around town,” Ms. Speakman said.
The council president cited a few other local memorials created to honor the service of town employees, including the upcoming (Saturday) dedication of the Barrington High School auditorium to longtime principal John Gray, who passed away recently.
“This is not an unusual request,” Ms. Speakman said, referring to the Dellefrattes’ proposal. “It was made in an unusual manner, but it was not an unusual request, so I can understand why they asked.
“John Gray will be memorialized… He was a great employee, but he was paid, and paid more than any of the guys who are working at the DPW.”
Ms. Speakman said the council discussed the policy governing local memorials at its May 6 meeting and sent the issue back to the park and recreation commission for further review.
She added that her personal opinion was that establishing a policy for memorials might not be a good idea. She said a clear-cut policy might eliminate some individuals who deserve the recognition … merely on a technicality, like not working the required number of years even though their contributions were deemed worthy.
“I would like the council to have the discretion, as opposed to having a policy,” she said.
As for the payment of the proposed Dellefratte memorial, Ms. Speakman said she did not support the idea of the town covering the cost.
“We did not pay for memorials in the past,” she said. “When family members wanted to honor their loved ones in the past, the family makes the proposal of what they want to put and where they want to put it … but usually the family pays for it.”
She added that she did not anticipate the town paying for the Dellefrattes’ memorial.
Mr. Dellefratte and his father told the council at its April meeting that members of the their family have served the town and its public works departments for more than 175 years combined. Initially, the family proposed a memorial that included walkways, bushes, benches and a large central stone that would include an inscription. It was not clear whether that plan had been altered significantly.