Visitors to Rock Hill’s Fountain Park may be disappointed by the lack of water in the signature fountain, but the city’s taxpayers can be glad its elaborate jet system is still under warranty.
The fountain, which opened at the end of 2014, has been drained and closed for repairs for three to four months. In the meantime, crews will excavate the fountain bowl and replace a number of pipes and geysers, all on the contractor’s dime.
When the city of Rock Hill opened Fountain Park between Main and Black streets, it kept maintenance of the $1 million, 50,00-gallon fountain under a three-year warranty to Leitner Construction of Rock Hill, and their fluid handling subcontractor, W.P. Law of Lexington, S.C.
W.P. Law will be handling repair work on the fountain, at a cost that will likely run into “several hundred thousand dollars,” said Deputy City Manager Jimmy Bagley.
Law has done other work on the fountain, including when the bowl was drained last fall to address the same problem. Bagley said a pipe underneath the concrete bowl broke and began washing up soil, clogging the pipes that feed the fountain’s alternating jets.
Work then focused on a temporary solution; keeping the one central geyser functioning through the ChristmasVille festival and the city’s holiday celebrations. All other jets, Bagley said, were rendered “inoperative.”
To permanently fix the problem, crews will remove portions of the pump system and may use jackhammers and small excavators to dig a 45-foot hole in the center of the fountain and – although much of the sensitive work will be done by hand, because workers don’t want to disturb the very foundational problems they hope to identify.
The scope of the repair work will add to the delay. Once fresh concrete is poured to reform the bowl, it will have to set for 24 days before workers can add an additional waterproof coating on the surface.
Fountain Park itself will remain open in the meantime, through this week’s Come See Me events and this summer’s return of Food Truck Fridays. But the fountain area will remain taped off from the general public. The narrow block of Saluda Street between the park and First Presbyterian Church could be blocked at times during the project to accommodate work trucks and equipment.
In addition to major project work, the warranty also covers all routine maintenance work on the fountain. W.P. Law is even tasked with collecting change thrown into the fountains, which Rock Hill donates to the school district.
Bagley said the city hopes to keep the maintenance contract going even after the initial three-year period is up.
“We have not had a reason to give it to anybody else,” Bagley said. “They’ve kept it functioning until now.”