Orchards Plaza with its quaint mural falls into disuse

first_imgWhat time is it, over in Orchards?When a Columbian reporter swung by on a recent lunch hour, the impressive wrought-iron quadruple-faced timepiece at the very visible corner of Fourth Plain and Covington roads said: 11:56, 12:04, 7:38 and 11:55.The actual time was 12:40 p.m.“My question is, why can we not keep the clock at the right time?” a reader named Tony wrote to ask us. “Also, why do we not use the square to promote community actions? How about some entertainment? How about anything? This seems like a lot of money went to, well, nothing?”Here’s a quick answer to the easier question — about the profusion of time zones at the spot known as Orchards Plaza.“The clock has some major flaws that prevent it from being maintained either in the traditional fashion or remotely,” Vancouver public works spokeswoman Loretta Callahan said in an e-mail. “Due to the way it was designed and built, resetting or correcting the clock takes a series of service visits by a licensed maintenance electrician. The city is looking at whether this can be corrected, or whether it should no longer be maintained due to budget and staffing constraints.”Which leads us to Tony’s broader question about expense. Most of Orchards Plaza’s homey trimmings were donated by local businesses and residents. The community square cost a lot to build only if you include the cost of the overall roadway realignment that spurred its existence.That $8.5 million project took years of planning and construction before it was done in the summer of 2002. At that time, the property was outside the Vancouver city limits, in unincorporated Clark County. The upgrade brought curbs, left-turn lanes, concrete-block retaining walls, traffic signals, sidewalks, new lighting, bike lanes and more to a rural crossroads that was overwhelmed by the growing onrush of modern urban traffic.last_img read more