$1.5 million Children's Fountain to be Funded With HUD Section 108 Loan, Public Comments Due April 3, 2012

04/03/2012 - 6:00pm
04/03/2012 - 8:00pm
City of Gresham $1.5 million Children's Fountain to be Funded With HUD Section 108 Loan, Public Comments Due By 4:30PM April 3, 2012. Council hearing at 6PM. Info Here!

Do We Really Need This Fountain?

When: Tue Apr 3, 2012 6:00PM
Where: Gresham City Hall
Council Chambers
1333 NE Eastman Pky
Gresham, OR
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$1.5 million Children's Fountain Loan Application
A couple of weeks ago, the City of Gresham posted an obscure 24-page document titled "Five Year FY 2011-2016 Consolidated Plan Amendment / Amendment to the One Year Action Plan 2011-2012" on the City's "Children's Fountain" webpage (http://greshamoregon.gov/city/) by following the Read More link. The key part of this lengthy HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) application document is on the back page, where it says that the City "intends to utilize HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee assistance to create a Section 108 Loan Pool" and that the City "intends to apply for a Section 108 Guaranteed Loan in 2011-2012 to develop a Children's Fountain in Gresham's downtown......for $1.5 million to aid in the elimiation of slum and blight in downtown Gresham."

It turns out that the City intends to pay back the loan ($110,000/yr. for 20 yrs.) from it's annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds (currently $900,000) from HUD. These CDBG funds typically pay for things like affordable housing and public improvements in qualified neighborhoods.

At a recent Community Development & Housing Subcommittee meeting committee members questioned:

  • why the City was building a fountain at this time,
  • whether the fountain would really bring more shoppers to downtown,
  • how downtown qualified for a Section 108 loan,
  • why the fountain costs $1.5 million,
  • what would happen if HUD again cut the City's CDBG funds & the City couldn't repay the loan with them,
  • what the annual maintenance costs for the fountain (not part of grant) would be.

You'll find the City's 2-page Children's Fountain project flyer here. You can find a 5-page Case Studies of other such fountains (Jamison Square-Portland, Lake Oswego, Beaverton and Maryland) compiled by City staff here. We encourage neighbors to take a few moments to review these documents. Written public comment due no later than 4:30pm Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

(Click 'Read More' link below for more details and project concerns.)

Citizen Concerns
Many citizens have expressed concern about the City's "Children's Fountain" project. Their concerns include:

  • borrowing $1.5 million to build a children's fountain when the city budget is still being cut,
  • claiming that Downtown has "slum & blight" to qualify for the loan,
  • taking away CDBG grant money (for affordable housing & infrastructure in blighted areas) to pay back the loan,
  • the possibility that City taxpayers will have to make the loan payments if the federal government cuts the City's CDBG money in the future,
  • annually spending $25,000 from the City's general fund for fountain maintenance,
  • questioning whether a seasonal fountain will really activate Downtown and bring enough new development to justify the costs & risk.

It's important to note the City loaned the Center for the Arts Foundation $1.5 million to build the Arts Plaza. The foundation was to pay back this loan but is no longer making payments because of the recession's affect on their fund raising.

You can learn more about US Department of Housing and Urban development Section 108 Loans here.

Submit Your Opinion
Everyone with an opinion on the proposed HUD Section 108 Loan funding for the Childrens Fountain is encouraged to make written public comment no later than 4:30pm, Tuesday, April 3. Those comments will be part of the loan application and will be considered at the Council public hearing Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 6:00pm, in the Council Chambers.

Submit Comments Here

More Info
Contact Louise Dix, Community Revitalization Program Ccoordinator, City of Gresham by phone 506-618-2618, or email Louise.Dix@greshamoregon.gov.