By BILL MARDIS
The grass is definitely greener in the center of town. Newly laid sod in Fountain Square gives a fresh green signal that “go” is soon the word for downtown’s renovated centerpiece.
Tiffany Bourne, community development director for Pulaski County government and overseer of the Fountain Square Beautification Project, said the work will be complete in a couple of weeks.
“I talked to the construction people today (Thursday) and they said the fountain will be ready to flow August 7 or 8. All else that remains to be done are installing furnishings and painting crosswalks,” Bourne said.
There will be a dedicatory program for the $1 million renovated square but no date has been set. “I want every i dotted and every t crossed before we announce a dedication,” Bourne said.
The impressive concrete housing for the fountain is in place. The fountain promises to be something else. Nineteen jets will propel water 15 feet into the air. An inner-raised pool will overflow into a lower pool.
The fountain will have a mind of its own. Sensors atop First and Farmers National Bank building on the south side of the square will lower the water display in light wind and shut it down completely when the wind is high.
The renovated square is taking shape as architects M2D Design Group and Bell Engineering said. The square is an open plaza space to serve as a focal point and an inviting gathering place. Steps and surrounding walls will provide a variety of informal seating.
Center of the square is a circular plaza of concrete paving and brick pavers. Memorial bricks will be located in paver bands and commemorative plaques will be on benches and planters. The square renovation is designed to be cohesive with and complement the plaza at Pulaski Court of Justice.
The statue of the late Senator and Ambassador John Sherman Cooper is back in place, looking south toward First and Farmers National Bank. A simple landscape of lawn, evergreen shrubs, grasses and trees create a low maintenance frame for the plaza. Six of the existing cherry trees have been preserved. Concrete planters will provide opportunities for seasonal color.
Stamped crosswalks will provide safe pedestrian crossings directly to Fountain Square. A raised island with a roll curb and stamped concrete will be a pedestrian refuge at East Mt. Vernon Street.
New striping and arrows will help direct traffic through the square. Signage will be consolidated and relocated on mast arms.