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.


  1. as it should be !

  2. JJ McAuliffe6/25/2009 2:08 AM

    Look if your going to put a fence around the fountain you might as well just get rid of it! I'm sorry but what a stupid idea. Please members of the city council don't' become robotic bureaucrats.

  3. I agree with JJ, close it down.
    Probably the same thing that happened the to Washington Park and fountain after awhile.

    I did notice the cops and ice cream truck drivers are making a killing at the Laurel Clark Memorial Fountain.

  4. Heather in Caledonia6/25/2009 7:52 AM

    Great pictures! I hope they manage to find a way around the 2 legal issues. I heard that Kenosha had to close their little fountain area downtown at the harbor because they couldn't afford a lifeguard. I don't know if they opened it or not. Anyone know? The water doesn't get any deeper there, either.

  5. post a darn sign, splash at your own risk, or get rid of the darn thing with these temperatures who wouldn't love to be a kid right now running in the fountains...

  6. Michael Kroes6/25/2009 8:07 AM


    I had forgotten about this until you brought the subject up. I will now add "churlish" to my vocabulary. :)

  7. Chicago has plenty of water play foutains. The law is stupid. A person is more likely to drown at the beach or a hotel pool. Why are those places not fenced when no life guard is on duty? It is also unlawful to eat pickles while riding a bicycle and wearing shorts. Does anyone enforce this? Please continue to follow this story. The fountain is there and there it should stay and be used.

  8. Tim the Shrubber6/25/2009 8:46 AM

    Why all the hate directed at the City Council? If they do indeed have to put up a fence to comply with state law, then blame the state government.

  9. Can't the mayor work out a backroom deal with the governor to exempt this historic structure from the law?

  10. Orbs, Give it time. This new mayor will have PLENTY of backroom deals under his belt by the time he's voted out in 2011.

    He still sits silent on all the violence and crime in this city.

    Reminds me of the previous mayor. Saying nothing about crime.

    I can't wait until he serves free apetizers to all the Illinois boaters!!!!!

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  12. I'm quite shocked that no J-Wax hack has complained about this yet.

    I'll give it a day or two until the extreme heat goes away.

    Watch and see.

    They do own Downtown don't they???

  13. Heather - Kenosha fountain is still dry as of about a week ago.

  14. The reporters at RacinePost should try just a little to write articles without throwing their personal opinions into it so frequently. Seriously, a good journalist wouldn't do that unless they are writing an op ed piece. I see it done over and over again here, and if you guys want to be taken seriously, stop.

    So Pete believes Tom Friedel is a "good alderman" and a "smart guy". Well good for you Pete. I'm sure there are some who will agree and some who will disagree. But we don't need you to let us know your opinion in the first place, as that's all it is, your opinion. Putting your opinions in writing and publishing it on a website does not make if factual.

  15. 9:25

    Whatever would give you that idea?
    Forcing KRM on this City?
    The sweetheart Deal in Uptown
    The Grant Writer
    The City Adm
    The use of the DRC as their toy? Well after all they do pay for it.

  16. Orbs, nope the mayor is too busy today doing a press conference about the new city administrator (I'm betting on Friedel)and the KRM...Dustin, can you check and see if the public can address him and ask questions and get answers today?

  17. GREAT IDEA, to stop the innocent fun of children instead of fencing the area off, why not take that idiotic art statute that is sitting around waiting for vandals to strike and put it right square in the fountain.

  18. Don't count on Racinepost to do any real reporting regarding the city admin if Friedel is indeed selected. They've already decided he can do no wrong.

    Actually, aren't there education requirements for that position? If so I don't think Friedel has them.

  19. whom ever gets that position better have an HR background, is not an automatic YES person to the mayor and will have ethics and morals.... I think when you mayor (past experience with many) shows you can do whatever the hell you want

  20. An HR background wouldn't be a bad idea for the city administrator but the city also needs to replace the position of an HR director.

    They need a really strong HR director to deal with all the problems. They shouldn't be allowing the Sultan (attorney Scott Letteney) to be acting as HR director. Way too few people have way too much power IMHO. There needs to be a buffer between the attorney's office and the employees.

    I also agree the last thing we need is another yes man to the mayor.

  21. David Letterman's top 10 list for Dickert and his 10 year plan....

    10. Leave the hot dog cart guy alone, people got a little pissed off.
    9. Lets rename part of the city to make it sound "pretty"
    8. Lets do the North American Mayor tour (he's got the tshirt to prove it).
    7. Let's stay quiet on the real problems of racine, "I'm to new yet to make a stand on things wrong, let me get my feet a little wet"
    6. Fence off the fountain, the children may have to much fun (I know not is idea but had to put it in there)
    5. At all costs, bury your head in the sand, what you don't know can't hurt you
    4. PASS OUT FREE FOOD TO THE BOATERS (while they are still here and don't take their boats and go home)
    3. Talk about the KRM (yep would be so beneficial as this point with unemployment bad in Chicago and Milwaukee)
    2. Appt a city administrator (friedel my opinion anyone want to start better)
    1. His 10 year plan..... WHAT IS THE 10 year plan to run everyone out of this city?

  22. nope gotta change the number one reason from his 10 year plan I forgot about this... my bad...

  23. So it's true - Friedel IS the new city admin. God help us all.

    Why John, why?

  24. Anon 4:41

    Because he is a moron, that's why.

  25. Can't wait to see what Colt says now.

    Still think "Dickert Rocks" Colt??

    God save us please!

  26. Bend over, here comes the 6th/7th Street Roundabout!!!

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  28. I call it like I see it :). It's great cleaning up the garbage and crud in the community, but hey Mayor how about cleaning up the 2 legged garbage and crud that is preying on our citizens? another reason its great to be mayor of Racine, you can clean up an area make it look pretty but hey you'll still get mugged.

  29. JJ McAuliffe6/26/2009 3:35 AM

    This is why I hate bloggers, once again they have managed to hide behind their anonymous names and managed to go way off the subject at hand! Just to remind you..this was an article about the fountain. If you really have an opinion about our city council and our mayor. Don't hide behind your PC or laptop, go to an actual city council meeting and be a productive member of society. Stick up for yourself and tell them what you think in person. Oh wait, what am I thinking that would require a face to the subject. Bloggers don't like that.
    Sad thing is, I know better to critizise you morons.
    Insert negative feedback.........NOW.

  30. It's sad that we can't have a simple fountain memorial without worrying about being sued someday when somebody's precious child will slip and break a skull, or catch e. coli in it. From now on, no pretty memorials. Just plaques. Behind protective polymer cases. With no sharp edges.

  31. One would have to put an enormous amount of effort into even trying to drown in that fountain. Let the kids have some fun.