May 10, 2010
11 ways to save the Laurel Clark Fountain
That's the word from city officials on the Laurel Clark fountain that was a major Downtown attraction, but is now an elaborate decoration that's off limits to kids. The city is blaming chlorine and a new a state law for shutting down the mega-splash pads. I'm wondering if it's a lack of imagination.
The JT laid out two suggestions in a recent editorial: 1.) Change the state law; and 2.) Ignore enforcement. Those are both good ideas. Here are nine more ways to save the fountain:
3.) Fundraiser - Money was donated to build a fountain to honor Racine's astronaut. Money would be donated to make the needed adjustments to preserve its intended use. One of the most touching moments I've seen in the last 10 years was Clark's husband pulling their son into the fountain at its dedication ceremony. This is one of the best attractions the city has built for children in years. People around the country, even the world, would donate to keep it open to children.
4.) Sell Naming Rights - The fountain was built in Clark's honor, and it's possible a large corporation or private donor would come forward to sponsor the attraction. It could be done tastefully - and effectively.
5.) Charge - If the city needs a lifeguard for the fountain, then follow the zoo's lead and charge a small admission fee. Parents would pay $1 to let their kids splash in the fountain for an hour, and the money would help defray costs.
6.) Talk to Mick Wynhoff - The owner of Pacific Sands says he can use natural ingredients to treat the water without the corrosive effects of chlorine. If successful, it'd be a way to help a local company and save the fountain.
7.) Pepsi Challenge Grant - Kim Wendt and Mitchell Middle School raised $50,000 to rebuild science classrooms with a couple of months of intense effort. Pepsi has a $250,000 category and Racine has a great story about a kids' fountain built for a fallen astronaut to tell. We could do it.
8.) Volunteers - Just find volunteers to do the work and donate the materials. It's a community fountain, so find a community to save it.
9.) BID board - Downtown businesses pay a lot of money into a "business improvement district." Downtown businesses could lead efforts to raise the money needed to save the fountain.
10.) Just pay it - Put the money in the city budget and fix the fountain. When I first moved to Racine the city let the ice rink at Festival Hall fall away. It'd be a shame to see the fountain go the same route.
That said, if nothing else works ...
11.) Shut it down - If the city isn't going to save the fountain, just shut it down. It's a waste of water to run the fountain and keep it off limits to children. Better to leave what was than move forward with whatever is there now.
Maybe one of these works. Maybe a combination works. I just know I've seen Racine do some remarkable things over the last decade. Let's find a way to do one more.