Construction on the Carousel of Dreams started Monday at Kennewick’s Southridge Sports & Events Complex.
Workers began to remove the sod where the 9,600-square-foot building for the carousel will be built.
The foundation should be finished within 30 days, and the building should be up in another 30 days, said Eric Van Winkle, chairman of the Three Rivers Carousel Foundation board.
The 102-year-old Carousel of Dreams presented by Gesa Credit Union is expected to open to the public in four to six months, he said.
The entire project will cost the community about $4 million since the project began about 11 years ago, including the initial purchase of the horses and the $2 million building, Van Winkle said.
Gesa Credit Union paid $1 million for the naming rights and Toyota of Tri-Cities committed $500,000 to the project, donating $10,000 a month for 50 months, which will help with operational costs.
Van Winkle estimates the foundation has raised about 93 percent of the money needed for the project.
Van Winkle said the nonprofit still needs about $400,000 to $500,000 in donations. That would help the board meet the goal of not using any more taxpayer dollars for the project and allow it to open with some money to help pay for operations, he said.
A gazebo and some pipes have to be relocated first to make way for the carousel building, he said. The construction is being led by general contractor CRF Construction of Richland.
Once the building is done, the carousel and all the horses need to be installed and then tested to make sure operations are safe, Van Winkle said.
CarouselWorks.com of Ohio has finished building the mechanical portion of the carousel. Van Winkle said the company is just waiting to ship it.
The volunteer board decided to go with a new mechanical portion to increase the reliability and reduce maintenance concerns.
While construction is under way, the spray park at Southridge will be closed this summer, officials said. The city has three other spray parks open to the public at Columbia Park, Highlands Grange Park and Underwood Park.
The Kennewick City Council gave the foundation another chance to finish the carousel in 2012. It considered selling 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 foundation is offering the carousel horses for adoption as a fundraiser. Van Winkle said. So far, 40 of the 45 horses are still available for adoption, including the lead horse. Three chariots, the cougar and the husky are also available for adoption.
Van Winkle said adopting a horse can cost about $20,000 to $50,000. The lead horse’s adoption fee is set at $150,000.
It would take a dozen horses getting adopted to reach the board’s fundraising goal, he said.
The carousel, with its three rows of bobbing horses, will be open year-round. Hours, however, will be seasonal.
Van Winkle said the foundation hopes to work with local schools so students can tour the carousel building and take a ride. The cost of one ride will be about $3.
The carousel will be something people of all ages can enjoy, Van Winkle said.
“That’s the magic of the carousel,” he said.
For more information or to donate, go to www.carouselofdreams.net. The phone number for the carousel will be 509-585-8800.