KENNEWICK — The antique carousel that has been Kennewick's since 2003 has had its last go-round with the city council.
The council made it clear at Tuesday's workshop that the 1910 carousel, including all 45 horses, three chariots, sign boards and mechanical systems are a thing of the past that isn't likely to come to life in Kennewick.
"I say sell it," declared Councilman Bob Olson, echoing sentiments of other council members that the city needs to get back its $815,000 investment.
"We've done everything we can. The wheels have stopped turning as far as the (carousel) foundation is concerned," said Marie Mosley, city manager.
The Three Rivers Carousel Foundation had been trying for the better part of the past eight years to raise money to finish restoring the historic carousel built in 1910 by carousel maker Charles Carmel.
But fundraising barely covered expenses associated with restoring the wood-carved horses, much less to meet a goal of at least $1 million to put it in working order and find a place to put up a carousel building in the city.
Jeff Kossow, city economic development director, said he, Ken Johanning and Phil Slusser were the only remaining foundation board members.
"As of today, everything is back here in the city (at city shops on 10th Avenue) except for three pieces," Kossow said.
Mosley recommended the city have an audit performed on the foundation's books to determine how much money was raised, where it was spent and confirm the city's investment.
She said it looks like the city's total donations through the years, most of which was to complete the original purchase, was $815,000 and not a higher amount that had previously been reported.
"We want to know where the donations went, and we want to inventory everything," Mosley said.
Mosley recommended the council not rush into selling off the carousel, noting that now that the carousel is being put into secure storage and the foundation is not in possession of it, opportunities might surface. She said a public-private partnership, a developer or something being considered by the regional public facilities district could involve the carousel.
"I'd hate to forego an opportunity. I recommend we put no more funds into it and see if we can make something work before we decided to sell," Mosley said.
But Councilman Don Britain said he is through waiting.
"It's been too long. I'm doubtful after these many years. We have all this money sitting, and who knows when the carousel will be up and running," Britain said.
Councilman Bob Parks also said it was time for the city to rid itself of the antique horses and machinery.
"We've given it eight years. During my campaign I said sell then and I say sell it now," he said.
Sharon Brown, mayor pro tem, suggested the carousel in its disassembled state might not find a ready buyer.
"Well maybe there's someone out there who is as stupid as we were," Olson declared.
Mayor Steve Young said there must be citizens who want the carousel project completed, but time has run out.
"Citizens aren't going to put up with us sitting on the $815,000. I don't see a situation that is a win here," Young said.
Young said the decision was a difficult one, and then complimented Johanning and Slusser for their years in trying to see the carousel become Kennewick's prized attraction.
"You took on a huge project and a tough one. You had your heart in the right place, but here we are. You've got a council that is pretty much one sided to get it sold and get our money back," Young said.
There was no vote, but Mosley said she intends to get the audit and inventory done and report back to the council.
There is no estimate on the carousel's value with its 45 restored horses, but the city should be able to recover its investment and maybe more, said Lisa Beaton, city attorney.
-- John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; email@example.com