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Splash It Up! fountain gets city go-ahead

by: Darryl Swan SPLASH ZONE — The St. Helens City Council has agreed to allow construction of the “Splash It Up!” splash fountain at Columbia View Park along the Columbia River. Fountain organizers hope to complete construction this summer.

In a flash, the dreariness of Oregon's rainy season has given way to warmer temperatures, which come with an ironic twist: A sudden desire to be reacquainted with water.

By July, residents of St. Helens may have a place for that in the form of a new cool-down spot at Columbia View Park.

Despite airing some reservations about the project, City Council voted unanimously Wednesday, June 1, to move forward on a revised version of the long-planned 'Splash it Up!' waterpark, featuring ground spigots that shoot water into the air. The new plan calls for moving construction of the park's water pad from the county-owned courthouse plaza to the city-owned park near the Columbia River.

The privately financed project, anticipated to cost between $35,000 and $45,000, is not expected to have any initial buy-in from the city, according to Jill Stockwell, a project co-chair. Project co-chairs would like for the city to waive permitting fees as a contribution to the fountain, however.

In addition to money gathered through community fundraising, the project will receive financial support from the Ford Institute Leadership Program, a Roseburg-based foundation that partially funds community projects in rural areas through grants.

'We wouldn't be able to do it otherwise,' Stockwell said. Fundraising for the project has come from selling bricks, which donors can purchase for between $40 and $1,000.

Project co-chairs say they've shored up 90 percent of the project's necessary funding already and hope to unveil 'Splash it Up!' later this summer.

Though 'Splash it Up!' will be located in St. Helens, its co-chairs call it a regional project. The waterpark's 22-square-foot pad will be shaped like the county, and each of the five water spigots will represent a Columbia County city.

But at the city level, some councilors and department heads have expressed apprehension about the project. That stems from concern that St. Helens could incur high maintenance costs from the waterpark.

'I just don't want our city to have extra work that it cannot do,' said City Councilor Phil Barlow. 'If it is just zero maintenance, or very little, then that's fine.'