Work under way to turn on water at city splash fountain|[11/26/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 28, 2005

Four months after the $2.8 million art park and splash fountain officially opened at Catfish Row, problems have dried up the water.

The fountain is turned off while the contractor, Neel Schaffer of Jackson, works to repair drainage problems.

&#8220They’re working to determine what they need to do to fix the fountain,” said Barry Graham, communications manager for the city.

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He said many of the artistic catfish print tiles will be pulled up so the land can be leveled and allow water to drain properly.

&#8220When the fountain is running, the water should roll off so you don’t have any big puddles or standing water,” Graham said. &#8220In certain areas it’s causing puddles that hold dirt, and in return the dirt gets into the filters.”

Graham said the repairs will likely take several months, but during the process the art park will remain open.

&#8220The park itself will be open, but the fountain is shut down,” Graham said.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said the repairs will not create any added costs for the city because the drainage problem comes from a flaw in the way the fountain was built.

&#8220I think it’ll be a work in progress,” Leyens said of the park that officially opened July 4.

While the splash fountain is under repair, several things are being added to the art park.

Graham said music was added to the park about a month ago.

The soundtrack will soon include sounds of various steamboat whistles with a narrator telling visitors about river life and the types of steamboats that have floated down the Mississippi River.

&#8220It’s not only to educate the community, but when visitors get off the steamboats and dock there they’ll get a little bit of information,” Graham said.

Also, a camera is being installed at the park to allow anyone to access a view of the park from the city Web site.

Graham said the camera, which is expected to be up next week, will be put on a light post at the park and will have several purposes.

&#8220The primary purpose is for tourism,” he said.

Graham also said the camera will be a safety feature and will allow residents to see the weather at the park and if it is crowded.

Plans to create an interactive environment for children with creative art are still in the works, Graham said.

The art park committee, created by the city in July, consists of local artists Daniel Boone and Lesley Silver, Southern Cultural Heritage Center executive director Bess Averett, Graham and the city’s special projects manager, Christi Kilroy.

Boone said he and Silver traveled around the country during the summer and in September to get ideas for the park.

&#8220We have been brainstorming and making notes,” Boone said.

He said the committee has not met yet to decide on a specific concept for the art.

&#8220What we’ve got to do now is think of what we’re going to say with the park,” Boone said. &#8220We want the park to be interactive so it’s not just murals in a smaller scale like the ones across the street. It’s going to be more interactive.”

Leyens said he is hoping to have some of the art finished by the end of the school year.