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Hearing on childrens fountain set for March 19

The Gresham City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed children's fountain during its next meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in the Council Chambers located in the Gresham Public Safety and Schools Building, 1331 N.W. Eastman Parkway.

Councilors will then vote on whether to use a federal loan for construction of a children's fountain in downtown Gresham.

The fountain was designed as part of the city's Center for the Arts Plaza, between Northeast Second and Third streets and Hood and Kelly avenues, in 2008. But the fountain was not included in construction because the city didn't have enough money for it.

Since then, Gresham has been awarded a $1.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The federal Section 108 loan will fund the design and construction of the 40-foot-diameter fountain. The loan allows Gresham to leverage part of its future Community Development Block Grant allocations from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the fountain, which is considered an economic revitalization project that benefits low- to moderate-income residents.

Section 108 loan guarantees allow local governments to borrow money from private investors at reduced interest rates, creating an investment tool that can drive economic development. Governments must pledge a portion of their current and future Community Development Block Grant allocations to cover the loan amount as security on the loan. They also must repay the loan within 20 years.

Members of Gresham's Neighborhood Coalition have questioned whether the fountain will bring in enough business to the downtown core to justify the project's cost.

It will cost an estimated $24,000 to maintain the fountain for a year, which can't be paid through the loan.

If approved by the council, construction would start this summer or next spring.



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