New life for an old fountain
Greg DeHaven has vision for heart of downtown
Most people who pass by 'the heart' of downtown Gresham, at the intersection of Third and Main, probably give the dysfunctional fountain there a cursory glance and go on their merry way.
Greg DeHaven couldn't just ignore it. For reasons he can't quite explain, that fountain got under his skin.
Now DeHaven, a landscape architect by profession, has made it his personal mission to restore the fountain.
It all started a few months ago when DeHaven and his life mate, Ann McFarlan, both of Gresham, were eating dinner at Boccelli's Ristorante. DeHaven was relatively new to Gresham and had never noticed the fountain before, but on this evening it mesmerized him.
'I saw it sitting there, just dead and rundown and every time I'd come downtown I'd notice it,' DeHaven says. 'It really started to bug me.'
The artist in DeHaven took over. He sketched a few preliminary plans and took them to Cher Buckwalter, owner of Hair by the Fountain, the business adjacent to the fountain.
The response from downtown business owners has been encouraging.
On a recent balmy morning, Judy Han, owner of Sunny Han's restaurant, which sits directly across Third Street from the fountain, admired DeHaven's plans.
'That would be wonderful,' Han said, of the possible restoration. 'We'd love to see it running again.'
Built in 1972 by the property's owner, Chester Coffman, the fountain has seen its share of vandalism. Teens poured bubbles in the water and the walls were perfect targets for graffiti vandals.
Eventually, the maintenance became too much for Coffman, 94. The fountain hasn't run for nearly a decade, but DeHaven is hopeful.
'There is so much we can do now to prevent vandalism,' DeHaven says.
There are textured rock faces to discourage graffiti, anti-foaming agents for the water and security cameras to catch would-be vandals in the act.
Even more important, new technology means less maintenance, DeHaven says.
'These things are very efficient now,' he says. 'They're much easier to maintain.'
DeHaven has the knowledge and contacts to make this happen - as the owner of Artspace by Design, a Portland-based landscape design company, he has done landscape designs for nine Street of Dreams exhibits and won first place honors for one of them and has created breathtaking water features for some of Portland's wealthiest businessmen.
What he needs now is support from the rest of the Gresham community.
'I see this as an opportunity for me to share my talent,' DeHaven says. 'It would be a pleasure for me to have people enjoy the fountain … and for downtown Gresham to really have something unique and beautiful in its center, in its heart.'
DeHaven says his proposal will cost about $70,000. Three days into his fund-raising campaign, DeHaven had already gathered nearly $20,000 in individual and business pledges, with a large chunk coming from Heritage Rock, a Clackamas company willing to provide rock for the fountain at below-wholesale rates.
Once completed, the fountain will be almost unrecognizable to long-time Greshamites. DeHaven envisions an updated look. The benches and shrubs would be replaced with easy-to-maintain topiaries. The plain concrete would get a makeover with tiny flagstones and the fountain would shoot into the air from the center.
DeHaven even has ideas for the rest of the 'four corners' at Third and Main.
'I envision a sort of Tuscan brown wash on the sidewalk, to pull it all together,' he says. 'Lake Oswego has done something similar and it look fantastic.'
Troutdale bronze artist Rip Caswell has worked with DeHaven on some of his private landscape projects, and DeHaven has talked to Caswell about putting a large sculpture on the north-facing wall of Hair by the Fountain, to add to the fountain's overall appeal.
DeHaven hopes to sell contributor stones of various sizes to help fund the project. The carved accent stones wouldn't overpower the fountain, DeHaven says, but would be visible through the water and on the fountain's eastern face.
Donors could choose an individual's or business' name to be carved into the stone and prices will vary: from $150 for a small, underwater stone to $2,500 for a large cornerstone with gold lettering.
'I think the interest is there to see this fountain running again,' DeHaven says. 'And I'd be happy. I could finally eat dinner at Bocelli's and not be bugged by this thing!'