BRENTWOOD -- A memorial to a dedicated city worker featuring a new arbor and memorial bench is being erected thanks to a joint effort between a soon-to-be Eagle Scout and the city.
While the Scout portion by Joey Hoggan consisting of the arbor and climbing roses is complete, funding is needed for the memorial bench.
The memorial, when completed by the city, will honor the late Esequiel Ortega, a Parks and Recreation maintenance worker known for his meticulous work at Sunset Park and his care of the roses at city parks.
"He was like 'Mr. Sunset,'" said park maintenance supervisor Barry Margesson. "He would groom all the fields, get them all set up ... clean the whole site up ... it was sort of like his baby out there."
Ortega was also known for the care and attention he gave to the roses at both the old City Park in downtown Brentwood and Veterans Park on Balfour Road.
Ortega's wife, Sally, said her husband would carefully prune the roses around town as if they were roses in his own garden.
"Mayor Bob Taylor would always say, 'Your husband is working on my roses,' " Sally said. "He loved to work on the roses."
Sally was surprised and honored by the memorial.
"There's no words to express how I feel about it, because it's really important to the whole family and his friends," Sally said. "I feel honored, especially for my husband that he worked so hard for, you know, that somebody would remember him."
Ortega had worked for the city for 10 years before losing a three-week battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009. And before that, he spent two years maintaining parks in Brentwood as part of the Contra Costa County Recreation and Parks Department, which maintained the parks in the city until 1999.
When Joey approached Margesson about an Eagle Scout project, he knew the exact project to give the Scout.
"I always had it in the back of my mind ... we needed something recognizing Esequiel's service to the community," Margesson said. "I took (Joey) out there and showed him that little section, and he thought he could do it."
The project, located where South Estates Drive cul-de-sacs at Central Boulevard, not only eliminated a blighted area along Central, but it's also the street where the Ortega home is located.
Margesson figured that once Joey had the cement slab, arbor and climbing roses in place, the city would install the irrigation, plant some complimentary carpet roses and look to outside funding for the memorial bench.
But despite a $200 donation from the Scout, plus another $200 in outside donations, the bench is still $1,300 shy of being funded.
At this point, Margesson said he is hoping the generosity of others will help fund the bench.
"I am trying to raise money through the parks department's Memorial Bench program to install a bench and plaque for Esequiel's family," Margesson said.
Donations toward the Esequiel Ortega Memorial Bench fund can be mailed or dropped off at the City of Brentwood Community Center, 35 Oak St., Brentwood, CA 94513.