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37576

Resolution

Direct Bureaus to take necessary steps to restore and return the Thompson Elk Fountain to its original condition and location

Adopted

WHEREAS, the Thompson Elk Fountain, also known as the Elk Fountain or The Elk, is a historical monument, fountain, and bronze sculpture located on SW Main St. between 3rd and 4th Avenues; and   

WHEREAS, the Thompson Elk Fountain was donated to the City of Portland by former Mayor David P. Thompson in 1900; and  

WHEREAS, the 3,000-pound bronze Elk Fountain was placed in a site that was a former feeding ground for elk that wandered down from the west hills of the City; and   

WHEREAS, the original installation of The Elk is between two public plazas, Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square, that comprise the Plaza Blocks in downtown Portland; and  

WHEREAS, two distinguishing features of The Elk Fountain include a bronze Hunting Elk sculpted by American artist Roland Hilton Perry, and an eastern-granite base and water-spouting fountain, which consisted of a top utility for humans and lower troughs for horses, dogs, goats, or other fauna, was designed and built by local architect H.G. Wright; and   

WHEREAS, the Elk Fountain is the second-oldest piece of Public Art in the City of Portland; and 

WHEREAS, the Thompson Elk Fountain has been an object of endearment and has served as a gathering place for Portlanders and a hub for activism for more than 120 years; and  

WHEREAS, on or about July 2, 2020, the Elk Fountain was damaged and subsequently removed from its original location; and  

WHEREAS, City officials went to great lengths to preserve The Elk in its entirety; and  

WHEREAS, return of The Elk will send a clear message that the City is committed to revitalizing the downtown core; and 

WHEREAS, the Portland Parks Foundation has graciously offered to hire a team with experience in architectural restoration, stone carving and masonry, and traffic design engineering to assess the remaining fountain parts, identify how new parts can be fabricated and adapted to recirculate the water used by the fountain, develop scenarios for how the right-of-way can be designed to address safety concerns; and provide a cost analysis for the full restoration of the Elk Fountain and street redesign; and 

WHEREAS, on February 15, 2022, the Office of Management and Finance submitted an application for Historic Demolition Delay; and   

WHEREAS, Council seeks to retain the local Historic Landmark designation; and 

WHEREAS, returning the Thompson Elk Fountain may trigger land use reviews under Title 33 and the Council cannot guarantee the outcome of the land use review; and 

WHEREAS, the Thompson Elk Fountain is an important piece of Portland History and, to the extent feasible, should be returned to its original state and location.  

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Office of Management and Finance is directed to withdraw its application for Historic Demolition Delay.  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council directs the Office of Management and Finance to take all steps necessary, including applying for necessary land use reviews, to fully restore and return the Thompson Elk Fountain to its original condition and location to the extent feasible. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all applicable bureaus work in collaboration with the Office of Management and Finance in this effort.

Impact Statement

Purpose of Proposed Legislation and Background Information

Prominently located in the center of our Civic Affairs district, the Thompson Elk Fountain is the second-oldest piece of Public Art in the City of Portland and has been an object of endearment, community building, a gathering place for Portlanders, and a hub of activism for more than 120 years.  

Following the announcement that the Elk would return, but possibly with a different base, many members of the community expressed strong objections to the proposal because it did not guarantee that the Fountain would return as well. 

The Portland Parks Foundation board voted to hire a firm or team with experience in architectural restoration, stone carving and masonry, and traffic engineering design to assess the remaining fountain parts, develop scenarios for how the right of way can be designed to accommodate the restored fountain and base while addressing safety concerns for pedestrians, bikes, transit, and automobiles. The Portland Parks Foundation will provide a cost estimate for these scenarios over the summer.

Community Impacts and Community Involvement

Return of The Thompson Elk Fountain will send a clear message that the City of Portland is committed to revitalizing the downtown core. 

100% Renewable Goal

N/A

Budget Office Financial Impact Analysis

The City Arts program estimates that the one-time cost of the statue and fountain could be up to $2 million. Final costing will be informed by construction and engineering plans currently underway by the Portland Parks Foundation. There is no identified responsible bureau or funding source for this project, and the Portland Water Bureau has stated that ratepayer dollars are not eligible. There may be opportunities to utilize private donations and insurance funding for the one-time costs. The ongoing maintenance and repair costs averaged approximately $7,600 annually from 2016 to 2020. 

Agenda Items

379 Regular Agenda in May 11-12, 2022 Council Agenda

Adopted

  • Commissioner Dan Ryan Yea
  • Former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Yea
  • Commissioner Mingus Mapps Yea
  • Commissioner Carmen Rubio Yea
  • Mayor Ted Wheeler Yea

Contact

Kellie Torres

Chief of Staff, Commissioner Dan Ryan

Requested Agenda Type

Regular

Date and Time Information

Requested Council Date
Time Requested
15 minutes