Poll: Norfolk sets aside $250,000 for broken fountain


by David Alan


Posted on July 8, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:12 PM

NORFOLK -- There's no water in the fountain on Waterside Drive.   What fills parts of it these days are leaves and trash and most anything else that blows down the street.

Norfolk Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot says, "That fountain has been somewhat of an eyesore and it doesn’t work."

The fountain hasn’t worked for years. The jets are clogged and it's sinking.

Officials say it could cost as much as a million dollars to replace it, but that's just one one of a number of possible uses for the fountain.

"There is a commitment to making our downtown stellar," states Bob Batcher, a spokesperson for the city.

As part of that commitment, the city put $250,000 in the already-stretched budget for a project and says it would only move forward if a private partner(s) comes forward to share the cost of beautifying the space.  Among the ideas: a park, a piece of art work, or maybe a new fountain.

John Jenney, who lives in Norfolk, has wondered why it's been sitting empty.

"I'd love to see it up and running again," Jenney says, "but right now is not a good time."

Vice Mayor Burfoot agrees.

"With budget restraints being what they are, I don't see using taxpayer dollars to move on that," he says.

Fountains may be pretty, but they're also pretty pricey to operate. The fountain at Scope, including water, chemicals to clean it, parts and electricity cost the city close to $21,000 last year.

While $250,000 may seem like a lot of money to spruce up this corner, some at City Hall see it as money well spent. They say having something memorable there is a quality of life issue. They argue the site is the gateway to Waterside Drive and could bring people downtown.

Batcher admits it's a tough decision.

"It's got to be balanced with the human need that's within the city, and that's something on a daily basis, a balancing act, city government has to do."