It’s been a beautiful backdrop in prom and wedding pictures for many years, but this year the fountain at Rainey Park on Front Street is more of an eyesore.
Surrounded by caution tape and orange cones, the fountain will likely not make it into many festive photos this year.
That’s because the fountain — and the property surrounding it has been sinking and city officials have been working to find a solution to the problem.
Jonathan Heald, director of the city’s new department of public services, said the fountain is sinking for one of two reasons. Either the problem is soil from underneath is eroding when the tide goes out and is leaking through a retention wall, or the weight of the fountain has caused the soil to compact over time.
“That is a concrete fountain with a lot of weight,” Heald said.
He addressed city council about the problem last week but more discussions need to take place in future meetings.
He said right now, the thinking is that it is an erosion problem and a solution will be less expensive than if the problem is the ground compacting.
“The best solution is to put in a sea wall,” Heald said, adding once the wall is in place metal pilings would be drilled underneath the fountain to a rock bed 40 feet below that would stop the soil from moving. After that the fountain would be leveled.
Heald said he will seek approval from council to bid out the project. If that approval is given, he hopes a contractor can be selected by May or June and the work can be complete by August or September.
He said there is no reason to believe the adjacent businesses or Kaminski House are in any danger.
By Scott Harper
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