Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Replica for Park Fountain Approved

By Trevor Stokes
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

At a glance

The issue: Replacement/repair to the Wilson Park fountain.

What's new: The city council voted at its meeting today, on a plan to replicate the bird bath for $32,800.

What's next: If approved, the fountain will undergo six months of work and is expected to resemble the original 1932 fountain.

FLORENCE - After rejecting a granite replacement for the concrete fountain at Wilson Park, the city council is expected to vote on a replica of the 75-year-old structure at its meeting today.

If approved, The Design Center, based in Franklin, Tenn., will build a scaffolding around the fountain and make a rubber mold of the second tier in order to develop a concrete replica. The bottom tier will have a partial rubber mold made as a safety measure in case the structure is unstable, said Councilman Dick Jordan.

The Design Center made a photo-based replica of the third tier, a picture of which is available on the University of North Alabama archival Web site.

A work estimate of the project, in the best-case scenario, is two months.

In December, the council tabled a decision to buy a $28,935 granite surplus fountain that would have been shipped from New York. Several historians were concerned that it was too unlike the fountain that was originally built in 1932.

Jordan, who represents downtown, presented the plan to members of Heritage Preservation Inc., a non-profit community-based historical group. Since the 1970s, the third tulip-like tier on the fountain has been missing, said Billy Ray Warren, Heritage Preservation president.

"Several people have said they know where (the third tier) is, but no one is telling," said Lee Freeman, a historian at the Florence public library.

Through time, the freeze/thaw cycle and water in the fountain have worn the structure, which has exposed rebar and missing concrete chunks, Warren said.

Members of the historical group, including Brent Wood and Ashley Winkle, said the fountain has undergone several changes including an increased water arch and deepened water pool.

The proposed $32,800 fountain replacement, if approved, will be paid for from capital project funds, Jordan said.

Betty Champion, speaking on behalf of the historical preservation group, said they approved of the repairs and commended Jordan for working with them on the plan.

"This is exactly what we wanted," Warren said. "(Jordan) did what a district rep is supposed to do."

Trevor Stokes can be reached at 740-5728 or trevor.stokes@TimesDaily.com.

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