ASHTABULA — The circular fountain in downtown's Cornelius Park is shooting high and flowing again, but almost $30,000 worth of work still needs to be done.
Larry Fargo, owner of Fargo Machine, has been working on the fountain for the past three weeks, making sure the new spray pipes are working. The work so far has included making and installing a strainer to keep debris out of the nozzles, fabricating a new stand for holding the pump and some minor electrical upgrades to make maintenance easier, he said.
"While the new spray pipes seem to make the fountain look totally restored, their installation was actually the first step of many to completely restore it," he said. "Much more work remains to be done."
About 50 years ago, Oliver C. Topky donated the fountain to the city and it's been a park landmark ever since. However, in recent years, the fountain fell into a state of disrepair.
About a year ago, Ashtabula resident Darrell Hamilton suggested improving the fountain. He helped Fargo by providing photographs and information about what the fountain looked like when all of the spray pipes were working.
While Fargo and several volunteers are working at the site, the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association is spearheading the total restoration project and is the fiscal agent responsible for collecting the donations.
ADDA President Jane Haines said she is grateful for all of the hard work.
"I enjoy working with people in Ashtabula who care deeply about our city and donate their time and money to make it a better place," she said.
Fargo said about 20 percent of the $30,000 needed to complete the job has been raised to date.
"The Robert S. Morrison Foundation made a very generous donation so that restoration work could begin, as did Ducro Funeral Services of Ashtabula," he said.
City Council President J.P. Ducro IV, who also owns the funeral home, said the fountain looks beautiful.
"So many thanks for the hard work of Larry Fargo, Darrell Hamilton and the many people who have helped make this fountain restoration project possible," he said.
The balance of the money will come from donations, grants and in-kind work, Fargo said.
"No city tax money will be used," he said
Information about the fountain project will be placed on the ADDA’s website (www.downtownashtabula.com), so residents can keep up with the restoration.
"This is just one project the ADDA has taken on to help make downtown Ashtabula a better place," Fargo said.
Today, the fountain to-do list includes:
• Painting the spray pipes.
• Installing a new water line with an automatic valve to control the water level.
• Installing new electric lines to the fountain. These will be used to power LED lights, which will be placed under the water to illuminate the fountain at night.
"In its heyday, the fountain put on quite a show with several layers of water sprays that would light up in rainbow colors at night," Hamilton said in a note to Fargo.
Additional work is needed to create room for additional wiring boxes and panels for LED lighting. Plymouth Township Trustee Kevin Presley has volunteered his services for this task and Busy Beaver pledged to donate material, Fargo said.
Additional electrical panels, boxes and circuitry will need to be installed at the fountain. Volunteers from Ashta Chemicals in Ashtabula Township have volunteered to do this work. Ashta Chemicals also pledged a monetary contribution for the project, Fargo said.
Some of the bricks in the fountain's base need to be replaced and both the bricks and sandstone need to be cleaned, he said. Ryan Lencl of Masonry Water Solutions has offered to donate his services to do this work at no charge.
"The interior of the fountain still needs to be sandblasted and sealed with a product called Diamond Brite," Fargo said. "This coating will provide for many years of maintenance-free operation, as compared to paint."
Fargo hopes to place a vegetation-type or permanent ground cover around the fountain with a decorative fence surrounding it, he said.
Tim Tyler of Tyler Sign and Lighting Services in Ashtabula prepared a conceptual drawing of a picket type fence and has offered to work on the engineering of the fence as his contribution toward the project. The fence will have decorative panels depicting local landmarks and cultural entities such as a covered bridge, a lift bridge and railroads.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the fountain's restoration should visit the ADDA’s website at www.downtownashtabula.com.
For more information, call Larry Fargo 440-997-2442 or email him at email@example.com.