Gresham plan includes childrens fountain at plaza
If all goes according to plan - the one created by the Gresham City Council and Redevelopment Commission, that is - a children's fountain could soon be coming to the Center for the Arts Plaza in downtown Gresham.
Councilors, who also double as urban renewal commissioners, approved the joint work plan on Jan. 3. The plan is like a roadmap for the city's growth and improvement, said Councilor David Widmark.
It includes 16 projects - 10 described as building community and six that are urban renewal projects.
Under the building community category is the children's fountain. Specifically, the council plans to pursue using a federal Section 108 loan to design and construct the fountain as Phase II of the Center for the Arts Plaza.
The loan would allow the city to leverage part of its future federal Community Development Block Grant allocations from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the fountain, which would be considered a physical and economic revitalization project.
It wouldn't be the first time Gresham turned to credit for park improvements. The city funded its Center for the Arts Plaza and the Gradin Sports Park with a line of credit in 2008, a move that raised eyebrows in fiscally conservative Gresham, where the city had never financed park projects on credit.
Mayor Shane Bemis said such loans and lines of credit are needed to build amenities because the city's general fund is consumed providing basic services, such as police and fire, to the community.
Gresham's tax rate is one of the lowest in the state at $3.62 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
'No municipality with our taxing authority can provide public amenities without getting creative,' Bemis said.
Bemis envisions the children's fountain as similar to Jamison Square in downtown Portland's Pearl District, which is often overflowing with children on hot days.
'I think having things for our kids to do is definitely noble,' Bemis said. 'I don't think you can ever have enough amenities for kids to do.'
The approved work plan also calls for creating codes for food and beverage carts, simplifying and consolidating tree codes, creating a new approach to resolving public safety and quality of life issues in apartment complexes, creating a plan for a youth-driven skate park and BMX bike facility, constructing pedestrian improvements in Rockwood, creating a Rockwood police facility, deciding what to do with the city's courthouse that is being replaced with a new building in Rockwood and revising the cost and funding for creating a nature park on Hogan Butte.