We lament the fix in which the Kennewick Carousel Foundation finds itself.
We're beginning to be worried that the kids of the Tri-Cities may never get a chance to ride the 1910 Charles Carmel carousel with its 44 carved horses and the new Cougar and Husky mascots.
And Kennewick taxpayers are entitled to a nod too: Their investment in the carousel is getting on toward $1 million with really nothing to show for it.
The community was enchanted when news about the carousel was first announced.
Citizens tended to envision a carousel in Columbia Park, open air, with laughing kids and sunny skies.
But with the purchase of the stored carousel came lots of new problems:
* The site became less focused. At first, people debated the merits of Columbia Park versus the "entertainment district" Kennewick city officials (and almost no one else) talked about. After a while, that faded into a vague "somewhere."
* As it came time to pony up for the carousel, the Kennewick City Council began the process of investing more th an $800,000 in the private project.
* Time after time, fundraising campaigns were launched, with wooden horses displayed all over town, only to sputter out.
* Just as people were catching on to the idea of the carousel, it was decided that would require several million dollars to build a suitable building for it and that building would need to be even bigger to add shops and facilities to make it more (but nowhere near entirely) self-supporting.
* Suggestions began to be made that this carousel might be too priceless an art object for kids to be allowed to crawl all over.
* The carousel became a campaign issue in the most recent Kennewick city election, with incumbents who had supported spending on the carousel (among other things) voted out.
* And now, Ken Johanning, the man whose idea this was in the first place, tells the city council that, "We need to have community momentum to get this done. Checks for $500 and $1,000 won't do it. We need $10,000 and $50,000 donations. The people of the Tri-Cities really haven't made their minds up whether they want a community treasure carousel."
Our experience with fundraising campaigns is that first you procure about 80 percent of the commitments you need from deep-pocket businesses and individuals, then turn a mass public campaign to raise the remainder.
But both parts are equally important -- the backing of generous donors followed by a buy-in from the community at large.
Implying that the community is somehow at fault for not supporting this idea is unfair and unrealistic.
We'd still like to see the carousel added to the growing number of activities in the Tri-Cities.
This is a community that supports with enthusiasm programs for kids.
But at the same time, Kennewick City Council members are right to say any further calls on the city for money must be accompanied by a site plan, a business plan and some evidence of community support that is both deep and broad.