Upset with fountain article headline and tone
- South County Spotlight - Opinion
I was shocked to read the headline '3 Years, $100,000 price tag, another delay' on the front page of the Sept. 7 issue of the Spotlight. I believe this headline is wrong and misleading and is negatively provocative in a way that is inconsistent with what I know about the project.
First, '3 years' is just wrong. If you thought we've spent 3 years working on the Rotary Children's fountain, you would be wrong.
Our first meeting with Michael Curry occurred on Feb 3, 2010. The city approved a fountain project on Aug 3, 2009.
Second, '$100,000 price tag' is misleading. 'Price tag' might lead you to believe we've spent $100,000. So, if you thought we've spent $100,000 of public money or otherwise, you would be misled. Although the city has budgeted $40,000 towards construction of the fountain, we have not spent even a penny of that money.
What we have been doing is fundraising for grants, cash and in-kind donations as a gift to the city in the form of a fountain. Rotarians, many other clubs and organizations, and local citizens and professionals are donating their time, talent and money as a gift; the estimated sum of grants, cash and in-kind donations is $100,000.
Of all the monies raised, we've only spent $2,000 from a Rotary Grant towards the purchase of stainless steel.
Putting the headline together as '3 Years, $100,000 price tag, another delay' is like saying, 'You spent 3 years, $100,000, where's the fountain already?' We know this headline is wrong and misleading, but it is also a very negative and provocative tone for no good reason.
The article continues that negative and provocative tone, but then evens out and you learn the reality is not negatively provocative.
The truth is we're proceeding in a manner consistent with our commitment to completing the project right as opposed to completing it now. That means being cost conscious and having a full set of construction plans before we begin, and taking careful consideration of design and construction details like fabrication plans, fabrication materials, site plan, grade and elevations plan, foundation/rebar plan, electrical/lighting plan, plumbing plan, ADA access issues, consideration of vandalism issues, water saving issues, storm water issues, long-term maintenance and cost-saving issues, as well as complying with city permits and Oregon law governing fountains.
These plans are created by professionals at no-cost, by Michael Curry, DLR Group, Lower Columbia Engineering, Akaan Architecture and Northwest Structural Moving/Settle Construction.
And because these are at no cost, it is right to be accommodating to their schedules.
Rather than being negative and provocative, I am very thankful, grateful and appreciative for their contributions of their time and talents. Our delay into 2012 is a good thing and the right thing to do. It means we're being careful and judicious moving forward.
Our reality is we're volunteers working to present a gift to our community that promotes a positive message of service and ethics to youth through the Rotary 4-way test in the form of a children's fountain designed by Michael Curry. When it is complete, it will be beautiful, meaningful, and worthy. I thank you for your support, encouragement, and patience in making it so.
- Gary H. Liao, Past-president Columbia County Rotary, Fountain Project Leader
[Publisher's note: As has been discussed with Mr. Liao since the article '3 years, $100,000 price tag, another delay' was published on Sept. 7, The Spotlight concedes the headline's tone overstated the scope of the story. Additionally, as has earlier been corrected in the Sept. 14 edition, the '3 years' statement reflected in the headline is incorrect.
The Spotlight regrets those errors in judgement and fact.
Going forward, the fountain project currently planned for Heritage Park, which The Spotlight has previously supported in the form of in-kind advertising donations, is intended to be the product of both private and public investment.
Because the fountain is proposed to be erected on public property, and because it has a considerable public investment of $40,000 from the city - as well as investment from other public agencies - The Spotlight will continue its coverage of this project. DS.]