November 13, 2008

Becker prefers other fountain(s) for kids

Well, that didn't take long.

Word Wednesday about the potential closing of Downtown's summer kid magnet, the Laurel Clark memorial fountain, has brought a response from Mayor Gary Becker. Becker wants to see more fountains for kids, not fewer -- but he'd rather build new ones at existing community centers than upgrade the one kids now enjoy at the east end of Sam Johnson Parkway. His plan could save on personnel costs, if fountain attendants were drawn from existing center employees, he said.

Donnie Snow, Racine's Parks and Recreation Director, estimated this week it might cost $175,000 to rehab the existing fountain for kids' continued use, plus the cost of attendants, chemicals and water.

Meanwhile, the husband of astronaut Laurel Clark, who spent her high school years in Racine, said he was disappointed to hear that the fountain might be enclosed by a fence to keep kids out. Jonathan Clark is quoted in today's Journal Times saying, "To not allow it to be an interactive fountain is really unfortunate. I think (Laurel) would have felt the same way ... She was very much a water person and valued kids’ activities as a part of learning."

The only problem with Becker's plan is cost: He estimates the bill for two new kids' fountains at $400,000. But the fountain constructed in 2001 -- almost two years before the space shuttle exploded upon re-entry -- cost $700,000 to build.

And the only reason Snow brought the matter before the City Council this week was budgetary -- his fears that maintaining the fountain might force layoffs elsewhere as chlorine damaged the fountain's innards requiring continued repairs, and the rising cost of chemicals and water -- not to mention salaries for the newly-required attendants. Nowhere in Snow's memorandum, however, was a figure as large as $400,000...


  1. Give the people a choice between keeping the city administrator position or maintaining the fountain. I know which one I'd choose.

  2. If the city can't maintain the one we have, how can they afford to build new ones? Wouldn't it be less expensive in the long run to just take care of the current fountain and make the necessary changes to make it safe?

  3. Becker is talking about splash pads, not fountains.

  4. Should we put Becker on the side of the wrong type of kids being too close to the Temple of the Great God J Wax?

    Note we should get rid of the city administrator anyway.

  5. concrete katie11/14/2008 8:26 AM

    This is maybe the one spontaneous spot in the downtown that was immediately popular and has grown more popular with time. It makes a wonderful memorial for Laurel Clark. It just needs maintenance..... If this city can move dump trucks of sand into Monument Square for a day why not expand the splash area into the underused parkway for a summer and see what real fun looks like.

  6. The article says fountains. Are you an alderman anonymous 6:13 am?

  7. Good catch bro! Wasn't there a committee or soemthing that did the legwork on this?

  8. 10:28

    Yes there wa a large group that worked on the Laurel Clark Memorial the Clark family was involved too.
    There is WRITTEN documentation tha the fountain was intended for kids from day one.

  9. I just wrote a post digging into the background on the fountain controversy:

    I have a call into the architect on the project, but it's clear from JT stories dating back to 2000 that the fountain was designed for kids.

  10. The bottom line here is that the powers that be do NOT WANT Black kids (unsupervised or not) running around in a fountain right by J-WAX in precious Downtown. I swear to you that I am a White guy. You all know this is true, admit it. What a disgrace.