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Statue still needs a home

In conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway, local artist Rip Caswell has been working on a bronze sculpture featuring Sam Hill and Sam Lancaster — the two men credited with the highway’s creation. Caswell has offered to donate his sculpture — valued at about $200,000 — to the city of Troutdale, but there has been continued debate concerning its location and the cost to the city to create such a space.

The city council generally agreed the statue should be placed in what’s been named Visionary Park, a currently undeveloped space at the intersection of Historic Columbia River Highway and Southeast Jackson Road.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - This sketch depicts what the statue donated to Troutdale by Rip Caswell would look like, featuring founders of the Historic Columbia River Highway Sam Hill and Sam Lancaster.

“I see an opportunity there with that corner,” Caswell said at the June 23 council meeting, reminding council this is not the first piece of art he’s donated to the city. “I guess why change that policy. I’ll do what I can to gift this to the city. I just need a place to put it. My goal has always been to leave Troutdale better than I found it.”

But renovating the park space is estimated to cost $60,000. This cost includes demolishing the structure on-site, rock work and laying the groundwork for the statue.

“I’m somewhat amazed that you’d be willing to donate such a costly statue to the city. Maybe the discussion on that is not over with,” said Mayor Doug Daoust. “I think all we can discuss tonight is to get the park ready for the statue.”

The council has a few options for funding. It could allocate funds from the parks budget, use revenue from the new community enhancement fee from Waste Management, or look into outside grants. Councilor Larry Morgan said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson had mentioned a grant program specifically for historical related projects. But with the anniversary celebration upcoming, the council needed to make a decision soon.

“I see this as one of those projects that will beautify the town and will come at a good value,” said Councilor Rich Allen. “The only thought I have outside of the issue is if we do plan on using any portion of parks funding, I would like to get the thought of the parks committee on that.”

While the parks committee only meets once a month, and is taking July off, there was a committee member present at the council meeting who said the committee is supportive of this project and believes it will pay for itself over time with revenue from tourism.

Councilor John Wilson said he felt these funds should be used elsewhere, especially considering that the city is still paying for the Troutdale arch.

“I just don’t feel this is the right thing to do at this point,” Wilson said.

Councilor Glenn White said Troutdale wouldn’t be the same without Caswell and his talent, so the city should do what it can to create a home for the statue.

“I know other cities would kill to have you in their cities,” White said.

He then proposed removing the derelict building and donating the land to Caswell, for development and placement of the Hill/Lancaster statue.

“If that works, it would be easier for us from a financial angle,” White said.

Council’s discussion initially supported looking into that proposal, but ultimately felt they need to consult with the parks committee to determine funding use.

“I’m fully supportive of creating the site for Rip to put the statue on. I really think we need to do this,” Daoust said. “We can’t keep talking about this forever.”

The council directed staff to email the parks committee members and ask for feedback on the issue. They will then talk about the issue again at a July council meeting.



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