Virginia Beach neighbors take action to keep memorial to dead teen standing

Posted at 11:37 PM, Mar 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-12 11:37:33-04

Virginia Beach, Va.  - Neighbors on Avalon Avenue are taking action to keep the memorial to Joey Fonseca standing.

Fonseca was killed in a car accident in 2010. He died at the intersection of Avalon Avenue and Normandy Avenue, only a few blocks away from his home. The site has become a tribute to Fonseca's life, with everything from baseballs to his own surfboard on display. However, the day before the fifth anniversary of his death, the City of Virginia Beach added a sign to the memorial.

It reads, "To protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians, this tree and the memorial will be removed by the City of Virginia Beach. Items will be kept for 30 days. Please call the Landscape Management Division at 385-4461 for more information."

"I guess it`s a good thing they put a number on the sign because their phones are going to be ringing. That is for sure," said Brittany Strikland, an Avalon Avenue resident.

Numerous residents have already called the department, but some residents even took it a step further and started a petition, to put the memorial back up after the tree is taken down.

"We are okay with the tree leaving but let us put Joey’s things back," said Kym Price, one of the petition organizers. "We want to be able to come here and reflect as a community and as Joey’s friends, his parents, his sister."

According to Price, when she called the Landscaping Management Department, she was told that the tree had to come down because it was a potential hazard. It's dying and it is starting to lean towards the street where there are power lines. As for the memorial, the land is City property and also has to be taken down.

NewsChannel 3 also called the department to hear what they had to say. Susan French, the City Arborist said that the tree had to come down, but said her department has no problem with the memorial being put back up. Calls to the City Public Information Office have not yet been returned.

Despite French's response, the neighbors on Avalon Avenue are not stopping their fight to put Fonesca's memorial back up.

"We are still going to fight though you never know what the city will do, but we are going to fight and make sure that the memorial stays," explained Jean Rae, another petition organizer.

According to the city, it will take a few weeks for the tree to be taken down, but until then, neighbors will continue to take action to keep Fonseca's memorial standing.