June 16, 2010

SC Johnson saves Laurel Clark Fountain; Donation to reopen Downtown attraction this summer, provide long-term fix

SC Johnson announced Wednesday it was donating money to reopen the Laurel Clark Fountain for public use as a splash pad.

The donation, which could exceed $200,000, is expected to reverse a city policy that had closed the fountain to children this year. City officials had shut down the fountain because chlorine was corroding its pipes and damaging a pump. Rather than replace the plumbing, the city stopped chlorinating the water. This ran afoul of state regulations, and signs were posted threatening anyone who splashed in the fountain with a ticket.

"The residents of Racine – and children in particular – love this fountain," said SC Johnson Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson. "It's a beautiful, inspiring place for families to gather on a hot summer day so we would like to make sure the fountain is functioning properly and the water is safe."

"The city is fortunate to have a great community partner like SC Johnson step forward to make this generous donation," said Mayor John Dickert. "Funding for the renovation and operation of the fountain would not be possible without their support."

According to media reports,  Fisk Johnson, above, was personally involved in the decision to revive the fountain. The company said it was prepared to take on all costs to bring the fountain up to code, including adding bathrooms and an attendant at the site.

The donation should put to rest persistent rumors that it was Johnson Financial that forced the fountain's closure because they didn't want children splashing near their building. Clearly, the Johnson family supports the fountain.

The family is planning a quick fix to reopen the fountain this summer, and a long-term fix to solve the underlying issues that forced its closure. In the next few weeks SCJ and the city plan to re-chlorinate the water, provide an attendant and bring in portable bathrooms. At the end of the season SCJ plans to overhaul the fountain's plumbing to solve the problem.

"What a tragedy that this fountain is not going to be operating during this summer," Johnson reportedly said. "It's a great fountain for kids and a great memorial to Laurel."

"We talked about it and thought, what a great opportunity to help the city by helping to solve this problem for the kids of the city."