There will be an iconic piece of Bienville Square missing, starting Monday, Aug. 16.
Ketchum fountain, which stands at the center of the downtown park, will be removed by crane and taken to Robinson Iron in Alexander City to be refurbished.
The removal of the fountain will kick off the first phase of a refurbishment project to the park, Stimpson said. The project is a partnership between Regions Bank, the Bedsole Foundation, the Hargrove Foundation, the Downtown Parks Conservancy, and the city of Mobile, Mayor Sandy Stimpson told a group of reporters. The project represents a $2.5 million investment and the first phase will total about $1.5 million. The city will contribute $350,000, while the two foundations have pledged $100,000 each. Regions contributed $50,000.
The fountain will be completely taken apart to remove rust and other imperfections before it will be put back in its spot, Stimpson said.
“The only way to fix it is to take it apart and reassemble it,” he said. “This will not only help us rebuild the fountain, but we’re going to rebuild the pool area and address the central plaza. The configuration might be a little different.”
The pool will be repaired to remove cracks in the foundation, Stimpson said. Those cracks have been sealed, but water continues to leak and is causing problems underneath. The work will also replace the plumbing underneath, he said.
Councilman John Williams said that when he started in city government 12 years ago, there was just enough money to fix emergency situations and little was done to make additional improvements. Because of the work of the current mayor and council, Williams said, and good fiscal management, the city can make improvements, like the refurbishment of Bienville Square.
“We are now able to have things that beautify the city,” Williams said.
Kellie Hope, president of the conservancy, said the aim of the group is to bring the luster back to Bienville Square.
“Bienville Square was once known as Mobile’s living room,” she said. “With this support we firmly believe the park can once again become a centerpiece of the city.”
Stimpson said the project will take “several months” to complete. That is, he joked, if it doesn’t “rain everyday.”
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