Midtown fountains among those in need of repair

The Seville Light Fountain on the Plaza.

Fountains are common in Midtown but many are in disrepair and pennies tossed in the water won’t be enough to fix them.

The Seville Light Fountain at 47th Street and Broadway is the only one of 48 in the city that does not work at all.

It will take a half-million dollars just to repair that monument, which dates from 1967 and is an exact copy of a fountain in Seville, Spain.

The city manager’s proposed budget recommends only about $250,000 for fountain repairs citywide. So the non-profit City of Fountains Foundation is launching a major fundraising effort to raise more.

About 24 fountains need minor to major repairs and a half dozen of them are on a pressing-need list for urgent and extensive repairs, said Mark McHenry, city director of Parks and Recreation.

“The $250,000 helps but that would get used up pretty quickly,” he said.

The city has a long history of fountains and people will be called upon to help save them, said Pat O’Neill, a foundation board member who is working on plans for the campaign for private contributions.

The foundation web site gives a history of fountains in the city and more.

Early on, they provided drinking water for people, horses and dogs. In 1904, the first fountain featured water coming out of spigots in lion’s mouths at a taller level and then cascaded down to levels for horses and dogs.

Soon regular drinking fountains came along and decorative fountains got more elaborate and celebrated famous people, art, events or even marked tragedies. In 1991, for instance, the Firefighters Fountain at the south end of Penn Valley Park was created to honor fallen firefighters after six of them were killed in a 1988 explosion.

It is among fountains that need repair.

Fountains in Midtown with the most pressing needs include:

  • J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain – Between J.C. Nichols Parkway & Main Street
  • Spirit of Freedom Fountain – Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. at Cleveland Ave.
  • William Volker Memorial Fountain – Volker Boulevard & Oak Street (In Theis Park)

A festival of fountains is scheduled for June 9 at the Bloch Fountain in front of Union Station from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Earlier that day, hundreds of bike riders will be in the annual Ride the Fountains bicycle tour.

There will also be a marching band and trolleys going on fountain tours and other events.


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