State Street surprise: Overlook plaza damaged

Old valve, new problem.

Construction work on State Street will involve some unexpected sidewalk demolition on the Overlook Memorial Park fountain plaza.

The park was not planned to be affected by the 15-month Urban Renewal Project on State Street, which faces it.

Next up:

24-hour closures possible.

Then, an obsolete valve was mistakenly opened last week, causing water to leak under the fountain plaza at Second and State, cracking the concrete at the base of the fountain. The valve had been installed as part of the original park design in 1999, but never used, according to project manager Gary Lindemyer of city public works.

“In the course of changing over the water system last week, a valve was turned on and a cap on the end of the pipe was blown off,” Lindemyer said. Water flowed for less than five minutes under the sidewalk but it was enough time to erode the earthen support for the sidewalk, causing the concrete to crack just below the Second Street stairs. The cracks are out of the main pedestrian area.

About Overlook Memorial Park

Overlook Memorial Park, dedicated in May 1999, contains a fountain with leaping metal fish, and basalt pillars honoring veterans of U.S. wars. Citizens have purchased memorial bricks over the years. They are arrayed on the plaza in front of a long tile bench. The Second Street Stairs connects at the fountain, which also holds flagpoles with the U.S., Oregon and Prisoner of War flags.

The park development was spearheaded by Hood River resident Paul Thompson, a Vietnam veteran, who gained inspiration for the park during a 1993 visit to the Washington, D.C., Vietnam War Memorial. He saw it as a way to update the only other public symbol honoring veterans, a plaque on the county courthouse. Display of the POW flag was seen to by then-city manager Lynn Guenther, a Vietnam POW.

The park was itself an Urban Renewal Project costing $193,376. It was designed by Jim Seeley, of David Evans & Assoc., and built by JP Contractors of Portland.

“We have to remove some of the sidewalk in order to see how bad the damage is,” Lindemyer said. He said no decision has been made on when to start removing concrete to investigate.

The plaza is safe to walk on, however, and repairs can wait until after summer, according to Bill Ketchum, Crestline Construction project manager. He said he has met with the city to discuss the damage, and is considering waiting until after the summer season.

“It’ll survive all summer the way it is and if we open it up and have a punch of issues, what would we do?” Ketchum said.

He said he also wants to avoid unnecessary disruption of access to the stairs, which directly affects Big Horse Brewery and Horsefeathers Restaurant.

Crews are nearing the point of a planned part of the project that will involve a brief incursion on stair use: tying in the stairs’ landing to the new elevated sidewalk that runs from Second to First streets. The closure could happen on April 21, so that work could be done on days that cause minimal disruption to the restaurant. Later in the year, the stairs will be closed again when the full concrete pour is done on the new sidewalk. “We know how important access to the stairs is,” Ketchum said. (A street-level sidewalk will be built, along with the one-block elevated pathway.)

The fountain plaza work has to be done before the Urban Renewal project is finished this fall, according to Ketchum.

“Right now we’re assessing whether to do it before June 1 or to wait,” he said. June 1 is the contractual deadline by which Crestline must be done with in-street work (other than periodic closures). After Labor Day, in-street work can continue, though the fall schedule is still in the works, according to city officials and the contractor.

Ketchum clarified that Crestline is making efforts at key intersections, such as Second Street, to complete in-street work by noon, but said it is not always possible to do so, depending on how much excavation and filling needs to be done. He said safety is paramount, which sometimes precludes restoring traffic prior to 5 p.m. to sections that have been closed.

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