Kennewick carousel groundbreaking planned Thursday

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldNovember 11, 2012 

KENNEWICK -- The Carousel of Dreams is going to become much more of a reality at Kennewick's Southridge Sports and Events Complex after this week.

The nonprofit carousel board plans a ceremonial groundbreaking at 11:30 a.m. Thursday for the building that will hold the 102-year-old carousel.

The board plans to kick fundraising into high gear, including making 42 of the restored horses available for sponsorship.

Also, work will begin to move a gazebo to make way for the carousel. Gesa Credit Union recently announced its contribution of $1 million to the project, giving the credit union naming rights for 12 years.

Kennewick City Council gave the Three Rivers Carousel Foundation's newly formed board a last chance less than a year ago to get the project moving again.

The city was considering selling off the 1910 Charles Carmel carousel to recoup some of the $830,000 the city invested in the project. The horses, bought in 2003, were restored and have been sitting in city storage.

Now, the foundation's board is working its way to a July grand opening of the Carousel of Dreams.

Eric Van Winkle, the foundation board's chairman, said the board has already applied for the necessary city permits. The carousel will be between the sports complex and the baseball field, facing the concessions building.

People will be able to see the 50-foot platter of the carousel and its horses through glass doors on the building.

While the building will be built of steel, the only part that appears metal is the roof. The exterior walls will be an earthtone stucco.

A gift shop and office will be on either side of the building's front doors, according to the drawings. Concessions will be in the back, along with restrooms.

There also will be a party room in the back of the building that Van Winkle said can be divided into two rooms. A catering kitchen and a back deck also will be available in that area.

Van Winkle said the board feels the party rentals are an essential piece to the carousel's financial health.

"Our homework says that most carousels wish they had put banquet facilities in the back," he said.

If a party wants to rent the whole carousel building, they should be able to accommodate 150 to 200 people, Van Winkle said.

And larger groups could rent the neighboring sports complex and the carousel building, he said.

The foundation recently hired CarouselWorks.com of Ohio to build the mechanical portion of the carousel to increase the reliability and reduce maintenance concerns. Some of the mechanical pieces that will make the carousel rotate and the horses move up and down will be locally fabricated.

The parts should be ready in April, Van Winkle said. It will take 10 days for it to be assembled here after all the pieces are delivered.

The volunteer group has so far raised more than half of the estimated $1.9 million needed to build the carousel building, Van Winkle said.

ALD Architects of Richland and contractor CRF Construction of Richland have each donated 100 percent of their time so far for the project, Van Winkle said.

Subcontractors also have indicated a willingness to donate labor, he said. In all, they hope to have up to one-third of the project's costs covered in in-kind donations.

"This community really wants this thing done," he said.

On Thursday, the carousel group will announce the ability for sponsors to buy the lead horse, Van Winkle said. After that horse receives a sponsor, the rest of the horses will become available for sponsorship.

Available for sponsorship are 42 horses, four chariots and the cougar and husky, he said.

Van Winkle said the group is incorporating local flavor into the carousel originally carved in New York.

That's why the University of Washington and Washington State University mascots will have their place beside the restored horses and chariots, he said.

They also will launch a "walk of fame" as part of fundraising efforts, where people and businesses can buy tiles that will be placed in the walk up to the front of the carousel, Van Winkle said.

The tiles that were created earlier in the carousel group's history will be incorporated into the design of the carousel, Van Winkle said. They have all those tiles inventoried, including ones made by children.

The 18 rounding boards on the top of the carousel will feature 18 impressions of local history from area artists, Van Winkle said.

Van Winkle said they are trying to get 100-year-old wood from a Kennewick warehouse to use for the decking.

It takes most groups at least 12 to 15 years to get a carousel up and running, Van Winkle said. The local group should have the Carousel of Dreams open in the 10th year of the project.

"We have an extraordinary piece of art," he said.

For more information or to donate, go to www.carouselof dreams.net.

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