Three Rivers Carousel Foundation says project should be done this year

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldAugust 13, 2013 

The Three Rivers Carousel Foundation is on track to open the Carousel of Dreams by the end of this year, the board chairman said Tuesday.

Eric Van Winkle told the Kennewick City Council that the volunteers are working on applying for a business license for the carousel, which is under construction at Kennewick's Southridge Sports & Events Complex.

An opening date has not yet been set.

"It's nice to see it come together," said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young.

The gazebo has been removed from the carousel site and will be reinstalled at the same time the concrete work for the 9,600-square-foot building is done, Van Winkle said.

The carousel will be called Gesa Carousel of Dreams in recognition of Gesa Credit Union's $1 million donation, Van Winkle said. Toyota of Tri-Cities committed $500,000 to the project, donating $10,000 a month for 50 months, which will help with operational costs.

The entire project, which began about 12 years ago, will cost the community about $4 million, including the initial purchase of the horses and the $2 million building.

The foundation is in good fiscal shape, Van Winkle said. Fundraising continues, with a goal of having the carousel paid for and $100,000 in the bank on opening day.

A new mechanism that will make the 45 horses, three chariots and the cougar and husky bob up and down has been paid for in full by Baker Produce of Tri-Cities.

The mechanism will be shipped here when the building is ready for the carousel to be installed, Van Winkle said. That should be in October or November. Installation of the carousel should take about two weeks.

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 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 cougar and husky are on display at Gesa Credit Union's south Richland headquarters at 51 Gage Boulevard, Van Winkle said.

The foundation hopes to make the building into a museum of sorts to showcase the 102-year-old Carousel of Dreams, Van Winkle said.

"It's a piece of art and it's a piece of history," Van Winkle said. "We are going to create a legacy."

And hopefully, that will be done in a way that will "knock people's socks off a couple of times," he said.

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

The foundation plans to keep the carousel open year-round. Hours, however, will be seasonal. A ride will cost about $3.

For more information or to donate, go to www.carouselofdreams.net. The phone number will be 509-585-8800.

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

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