Spring starts, and fountains flow

City of Fountains Foundation Board Member Carl DiCappo and “Miss City of Fountains” Sophia Dominguez turned on the first fountain today.

City of Fountains Foundation Board Member Carl DiCapo and “Miss City of Fountains” Sophia Dominguez turned on the first fountain today.

The William Volker Memorial Fountain.

The William Volker Memorial Fountain.

In a Fountain Day ceremony today, officials turned on a newly lighted waterfall and basin that have not worked for years.

They are part of the William Volker Memorial Fountain at  Volker Boulevard and Oak Street, a system that just underwent $1.1 million in repairs, even with donated design and construction work.

It is the most expensive of seven fountains repaired with about $3 million raised in a recent drive by the City of Fountains Foundation, officials said.

And they have about $109,000 of the $250,000 needed for the Westside Fountain, the last one on their list of eight fountains most in need of work.

untitled-(18-of-26)Volker was the biggest and probably most challenging renovation, officials said.

Casey Cassias, foundation board member, said the waterfall and basin were added in the 1990s, when the statue figures were moved from the north side of Brush Creek to the south of it.

That was trouble from the start, because the pumps recycled water from Brush Creek.

“Fountains kind of like water that isn’t dirty, that isn’t filled with siltation or whatever else,”  Cassias said.

The waterfall and basin stopped about five years ago and sludge in pipes became like concrete, he said.

Burns and McDonnell, JE Dunn and other companies worked long and hard with the city parks department to get everything working and add lights, he said.

untitled-(22-of-26)Mark McHenry, city parks director, gave some history of the bronze fountain statues dedicated in 1958.

Carl Milles, a Swedish sculptor with a sense of humor, did the image of St. Martin of Tours, riding a horse and sharing his cloak with a beggar in about 330 A.D.

One angel plays a flute from the wrong end of it, and another angel wears a wristwatch.

It was all done to honor William Volker, known as “Mr. Anonymous” for his quiet lifelong donations to people, hospitals, charities and institutions like the city college that became UMKC.

More information on Volker and his Midtown neighborhood

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