THE SQUEAKY WHEEL- Missing Mall music: Please just jiggle the handle
Sometimes all it takes to solve a water flow problem is to jiggle a handle. Getting the Downtown Mall fountains working again wasn′t quite that simple. All four Mall fountains have been dry much of the time since spring 2006. These fountains are my favorite Mall sites, and they all seemed to be calling for attention. I contacted Mike Svetz, Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation Director, to see if he could get the water flowing again.
Svetz explained that the fountains' water pumps are as old as the Mall, are worn out, and repair parts are hard to obtain and replace. Only one member of the city staff can do the repairs. He promised to expedite repairs as best he could and provided me frequent progress updates.
In mid-July, just after the Downtown Mall's 30th anniversary celebration, the fountain at Central Place spewed water for the first time in many months. Several weeks later, the fountain at Miller′s awakened. A few weeks after that, the fountain at Chaps started flowing. The fountain at the Nook didn't come alive before winter shutdown. I was disappointed, but three of the four did work for the latter part of the season.
Prognosis for Spring 2007:
I telephoned Svetz again recently to find out the chances of all four fountains operating this spring. He boldly promised that it's not a matter of "if"– he pledged they all will be working!
I don′t generally toss coins into fountains for luck, but I might toss some in this spring and ask for luck in keeping these fountains flowing. I also look forward to thanking Mike Svetz for jiggling the handles– or whatever he did to get the fountains working again.
That is, if I hear the refreshing tinkling of splashing water once the warm weather arrives.
Dry fountains may soon tinkle again.
PHOTO BY THE AUTHOR