2020-06-03

Bridgewater’s problematic fountain won’t be flowing this summer

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>The floating fountain in the LaHave River within Bridgewater town limits.</p>

The floating fountain, a 10-year tradition in the LaHave River between the old and new bridges in Bridgewater, is mothballed for 2020.

Mayor David Mitchell cautioned back in January the waterfront fixture was in limbo due to ongoing and pricey repairs that's kept it on land more often than in the water in recent years.

A $12,000 figure earmarked for the fountain was removed from the draft 2020-21 budget and wasn't reinstated in the final financial document. Figures released by the town two years ago showed it costs an average $12,000 per year to keep the fountain operating.

"The fountain will not be going back into the river this year as council worked to cut costs in several areas," Mitchell said in a social media post on his mayoral page. "This is just one example, but one I know many would wonder about this summer with its absence."

The removable fountain sustained an electrical problem last year summer, forcing its shutdown in August.

The device was first installed between the Old Bridge and Veterans' Memorial Bridge in 2010 as a prominent feature in a larger-scale riverfront beautification program aimed at the downtown core.

Purchased in February 2010 from an irrigation sales and service company, the fountain cost nearly $70,000. It was a single-source deal made after the original tender came in over budget.

During recent warm weather seasons, it's been problematic keeping the water spewing from the fixture.

Operational issues in 2018 put the fountain out-of-service. The year prior the device's original motor needed a $7,000 replacement.

About a year-and-a-half after it was bought, it was sent back to the seller to fix a major electrical malfunction.

Since 2011, it's cost close to $90,000 to keep the fountain operational.

A former town chief administrator, in a report to council in 2018, raised questions about the value behind the spending and the necessity of investing in accentuating the LaHave River, "which is already a great natural attraction and asset."

Richard MacLellan said there was no proof the fountain attracts people to the riverfront or downtown. However, he noted the fixture is "interesting and attractive" and figures prominently in images and signage associated with Bridgewater.

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