A fountainless Bremerton in 2016

Before the dark times.
Before the dark times.

Bremerton’s Harborside Fountain Park will be a decade old in 2017. Unfortunately, that’s also the next time the submarine sail-shaped spouts will operate again.

City officials made the call this week to forgo attempts to get the fountains back up and running in time for this year’s summer season. Regulatory hoops and repairs, to make the park safe for water waders, will eat up the entire year, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent said Thursday.

“It’s very disappointing,” Lent lamented. “On the hot days, those fountains draw so many people downtown. And our downtown couldn’t look prettier.”

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The fountains will be dry ’til 2017. Parks director Jeff Elevado pictured. Photos by Meegan M. Reid.

As a consolation, the city will fire up the sprinklers from noon to 3 p.m. Friday (Aug. 26) at Evergreen-Rotary Park, Lent said. There could be more sprinkler outings on subsequent hot days.

Under Lent’s watch, the fountains have turned on each year in March (former Mayor Cary Bozeman would run them year round, but Lent thought it a prudent cost savings measure to turn them off in winter). Not this year. The city’s parks department, which maintains them, has grown increasingly concerned that the mechanisms keeping them going are failing.

The $20 million fountain park, formerly a rather unsightly lay-down yard within the shipyard, was not meant to be a swimming pool. But treating them as such has taken a toll. So city officials have authorized up to $100,000 in Real Estate Excise Tax funds to reconstruct filtration, control systems and upgrade plumbing. The goal is to ensure the water’s safe for human contact.

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But the fountains also caught the eye of both the state and county’s health departments. The city had to apply for permitting to make the fountain park a recreational water facility. That took several months earlier this year. Even now, with approval, a bunch of parts needed for the repairs remain on back order.

Lent said that even once the repairs are done, the state and county health departments will want to conduct testing to ensure the water is safe. That’s going to take time, and sadly, that means Bremerton’s fountain park will be fully fountainless through 2016.

10 thoughts on “A fountainless Bremerton in 2016

  1. This is the ghost of former Mayor Bozeman’s past coming home to roost. Allowed highly proprietary equipment to be installed without consideration of maintenance cost. Add current Mayor Lent’s lack of attention to needed maintenance preferring more to build new what she sees as “her legacy” and you now have expensive maintenance issues that can’t be afforded.

    Question: Why does Bremerton build new parks that the citizenry can’t afford to properly maintain? Answer: They can use “other people’s money” rather than funding from their citizenry to do it so maintenance is not major part of the consideration.

  2. I wonder, have there been any cases of sickness from playing in the fountains? What caused the departments of health to become interested? The technology (and rules) certainly exists for keeping swimming pools safe. The international fountain at Seattle Center has been operating for years-so did Bremerton’s engineers ignore that experience? Bremerton cannot encourage tourists, when their first view is one of a failed system.

    1. The fountains weren’t intended to be played in, and therefore weren’t designed for the chemicals used to keep swimming pools and fountains clean. The local Bremelos decided to turn them into a free water park.

  3. Question for you Josh:

    I know that the fountains were shut down to be upgraded for use as wading pools, something they were not originally designed for. If this is the case, why are the fountains up the road not shut down too? Why is a “please don’t swim in the fountain” sign good enough for the fountains at Pacific and Burwell, but not good enough for ferry terminal fountains? Aren’t the “risks” to the public the same at both? That leads to the next question: If a “swim at your own risk” sign is enough, why not put those signs up for the summer and do the repairs in the fall / winter when nobody uses the fountains anyway?

    1. Good questions, David.

      The fountains up the road are not meant to be played in, and as such, the state and county departments of health do not wish to regulate them as recreation pool facilities. The city does not treat them (mainly with bromine) like they do the fountain park. (Some work was done at the Memorial Park fountains in the spring, though).

      On your next question: the fountains were in pretty bad shape this spring. You raise a good point about the work being done in the winter. But from what I was told, the Harborside fountains were at a point this year where continuing their use as is posed even greater risks to their innards and the parks department could not continue the bandaid approach for any longer.

      -Josh

      1. Thanks for the follow up Josh. Its interesting that the intended design seemingly matters more to the health department than how the fountains are used in practice. I’ve seen kids playing the upper fountains all summer…. right next to the “do not play in fountain” sign. Its a good thing I think. As much as that park cost, its great to see that people are finding uses for it that weren’t actually foreseen by planners. As bad as parking is down near those fountains they are full of people all summer.

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