Bid to raze fountain falls flat
Mayor David Mayfield’s plan to replace Central Park’s half-century-old memorial fountain with a splash pad drew mixed reviews Monday and assurances from at least one city council member that the lighted fountain would be saved.
He told council members he supported building a splash pad where the fountain, which needs repair, now stands.
“If we could have a splash pad in Central Park, I think it would a good thing,” Mayfield told council members.
Mayfield added that the community is good about donating money for projects such as a splash pad.
Mayfield said the city should find out the costs of repairing the fountain, which recently has stopped working, and the costs of building a splash pad.
Councilman Chris Costello had mixed feelings about whether to even consider a splash pad.
“I think it’s a great idea, but I don’t like the timing,” Costello said, noting city administrator Roger Holter’s statistics on COVID-19. “I want to live.”
Council member Jerry Kline said he had received emails opposed to demolishing the memorial, as had council member Ruth Herbel.
“The fountain is a serious thing in our town,” Herbel said.
She said the condition of the fountain was “horrible” and doubted park director Margo Yates’ word that the fountain was cleaned daily.
City administrator Roger Holter said a splash pad would cost $45 a day for water.
The memorial fountain, proposed in the 1960s by newspaperman Wharton Hoch, was completed after his death in 1967, in part as a memorial to him and others.
Family members voiced fierce opposition to demolishing the fountain in emails sent to council members.
Wharton’s son, Bob Hoch, sent an email to Mayfield, council members, Holter, and many others that said:
“May I offer a plausible suggestion? Turn your eyes across Main St. at the gaping hole once occupied by the Dairy Palace.
It seems obvious by now the property owners don’t have any immediate plans to do anything useful with that space. Rather than let that eyesore remain, approach the owners and press for either their constructive use of that property or sell to the city for said splash park.
There would be plenty of room for several diagonal parking spaces off Main St., with the recreational area behind it. There. Two problems solved.”
Bob’s brother, Jim Hoch, wrote: “Splash pads have their own downsides — that of accidental injuries, slips, falls, etc., and waterborne illnesses. One sick kid can contaminate the water, and you all know children will swallow some of that water, and therefore stand a chance of being infected.
Unless this splash pad has a filtration and chlorination system like the swimming pool has, this is just an ugly hazard that does not need to be a fixture in the park.”
Although the council took no vote, council members seemed to favor repairing the memorial fountain and considering a splash pad elsewhere.
“That’s going to be a very expensive thing to run,” Kline said. “The debate is the price of a splash pad.”
City attorney Susan Robson was instructed to check into the price of building a splash pad.