Carousel of Dreams construction could start by end of March

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 26, 2013 

Dirt may begin moving for the Carousel of Dreams at Kennewick's Southridge Sports and Events Complex at the end of March.

The volunteer board of the Three Rivers Carousel Foundation is working on getting the necessary permits for the carousel's new home.

Eric Van Winkle, the foundation board's chairman, said two-thirds of the money needed has already been donated. The group is still fundraising for an additional $600,000 for the $1.9 million project.

The 102-year-old Carousel of Dreams presented by Gesa Credit Union is still on target to open to the public this summer, he said.

The Kennewick City Council gave the foundation another chance to finish the carousel in 2012. It considered selling off the 1910 Charles Carmel carousel to recoup some of the $830,000 the city invested in the project. The horses, purchased in 2003, were restored and have been sitting in city storage.

The carousel is further along than it has ever been, Van Winkle said. While plans had been drawn up previously, none had been taken to the point of making it functional.

That is what Van Winkle said the group is doing now. The design is about 75 percent complete.

In the meantime, the mechanism that will move the historic carousel is also about 75 percent built, Van Winkle said. The board hired Carousel Works.com of Ohio to build the mechanical portion of the carousel to increase the reliability and reduce maintenance concerns.

A gazebo at the carousel's future location will be moved as part of the construction project, Van Winkle said.

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, or the base, of the carousel and its horses through glass doors on the building.

The 9,600-square-foot building also will feature a gift shop, office, concessions, a party room, a catering kitchen and a back deck.

General contractor CRF Construction of Richland and ALD Architects of Richland have donated services to the carousel project.

The decorative rounding board on the top of the carousel will feature artwork by Tri-City photographer John Clement, Van Winkle said.

Once construction begins, PixelSoft Films of Kennewick will have a camera near the site to take pictures every five minutes to record the construction, he said. A video will be offered for sale in the gift shop.

Each year a new collectible coin featuring one of the carousel horses will be offered, starting with the lead horse, Van Winkle said. The coins also will be the tokens used to ride the carousel, available from a token dispenser.

Van Winkle said the group will update the Kennewick City Council on March 12. At that time, it will announce a $500,000 sponsorship.

Forty of 45 horses are left to sponsor, Van Winkle said. If those are all sold, then Van Winkle said the fundraising goal will be reached.

The tiles previously sold as part of the project, including the kids' tiles, have been saved and will be incorporated into the carousel project, Van Winkle said.

The board also is selling tiles where names or logos can be engraved that will be installed on the floor of the main room featuring the carousel, he said.

For more information or to donate, go to www.carouselofdreams.net.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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