June 24, 2009
Worst idea of the year: A fence around the fountain
Let's build a fence around the Laurel Clark Fountain Downtown, to keep the kids out.
Ah, yes, go back in our Time Machine, to last November, when that actual suggestion was reverberating around City Hall. In November, one could have a discussion about doing just that, because of some ambiguous state law requiring an attendant, or is it a lifeguard? at the fountain where the water never gets even 1/4" deep. I'm not making this up.
Or was it state code involving chlorine that would be blamed? Yes, that too.
No matter. It was one of those debates where nothing -- and everything -- was at stake. Nothing, because it was merely hypothetical in November; everything, because summer inevitably would come and somebody would have had to explain to the kids why the fountain was fenced off.
Well, summer came this week. Today the temperature was in the 90s, humidity was over 60 percent; there even was an air quality alert. I'd like to make a suggestion: If the City Council ever does consider putting a fence around the fountain, let's make sure they debate the issue in situ, at the fountain on a day like today, in front of the kids dancing through the sprays, splashing each other, having a great time under the watchful eyes of their parents.
Truth be told, even some parents were dancing through the water today.
Yes, if there ever is a debate, it should take place in summer, with the kids -- every one of them a future voter -- present. This would make more sense than the dismissal hearing the aldermen just wasted a week of their lives on -- a week they'll never get back -- and the result would be just as predictable.
The good news is that Mayor Tom Friedel (Remember him? The "mayor" elected by the City Council to serve in the brief interim between Gary Becker and ...whomever. Chosen, yes, because he's a smart guy and a good alderman but also because he agreed not to run for the post in the May election.) ... but I digress. The good news is that Mayor Tom Friedel had the good sense to put the kibosh on the fence idea, at least for this summer. "I'm not going to put a fence there," he said in April. "Maybe the next mayor will have another idea."
And so, the fence, is now in John Dickert's court. But not for now. For now, it's summer, there's no fence, the kids are using the fountain for just what it was designed for, and it would be churlish to ruin their fun by bringing the subject up.