Rainy and unusually cool weather this spring has delayed about a month completion of the Fountain Square Beautification Project.
A dedicatory program, planned in July, probably won’t be held until about August, said Tiffany Bourne, community development director for Pulaski County.
However, the magnificent new fountain under construction on the square may be in operation earlier than August. “We’ll probably let it run after it is completed to see how it works,” Bourne said. Russell Sitter, designer of the fountain, said this week the fountain is about three-quarters done.
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.
There has been talk about water in the fountain being “freeze proof” for year-round operation, but this won’t happen.
“It could be done but would be expensive,” Sitter said. “It just wouldn’t be feasible to design it for year-round operation in Somerset.” He said the pool will be drained in the fall.
Renovation of Fountain Square is being done with an $800,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant and $200,000 in-kind contribution by Pulaski County government.
M2D Design Group and Bell Engineering, architects for the project, say the renovated square will be an open plaza space that will be a focal point and an inviting gathering place. Steps and surrounding walls will provide a variety of informal seating.
Center of the square will be 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 will be relocated to face south, toward First and Farmers National Bank. There will be space for another statue, rumored but not confirmed to be that of Congressman Hal Rogers. Cooper’s statue is in storage during the renovation project.
A simple landscape of lawn, evergreen shrubs, grasses and trees will 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.