Mad River Union
ARCATA PLAZA – “Nine thousand dollars?! Not good enough!” exclaimed Action Mayor Brett Watson as he pounded the meeting table in City Hall. Leveling his steely gaze at the assembled city employees, the incensed mayor’s nostrils flared in outrage. “This shall not stand. I expect that fountain fixed – cheaper, better and now – for the people!”
While that’s how it might be portrayed in the movie about the repair of the Plaza’s Temperance League Fountain, it’s not what happened.
Watson and Councilmember Paul Pitino did get the fountain restoration started with last week’s Sunday scrubdown, but the follow-through was delivered far ahead of time and way under budget thanks to the wit and ingenuity of frontline city workers.
The defunct fountain’s repair had been foreseen as a major project costing $9,000, with pavement dug up and pipes excavated. No date certain had been set for completion of the repair.
But once on scene, Streets/Fleet Supervisor Scott Lackey, Lead Mechanic Nick Purcell and Senior Maintenance Worker Stan Shaffer worked out a solution on the spot.
In an email to Environmental Services Director Mark Andre, Lackey detailed the quick fix:
“We actually found a fitting that would slip onto the existing copper water line. Installed a shut off in the existing underground box and reconnected supply line and pressure reducing valve. Replaced the concrete on the fountain pedestal and both facet heads. We spent around a hundred dollars, not counting labor or the facet heads that were supplied by Stan. Nick Fabricated the stainless piece that mounts to the bowl. Hopefully a permanent fix, but time will tell."
Update: States Lackey: "Actually, the older, not so photogenic fella in the picture is Gary Osborne, the city's senior construction specialist. He did the majority of the work to repair the fountain."
The fountain's restored function allows it to resume its historic role in giving Arcata's menfolk an alternative to the Plaza's bars for wetting their whistle.
Watson, his nostrils since stabilized, suggested that an interpretive plaque be placed near the vintage 1912 fountain to explain its history.