ELYRIA — Mayor Holly Brinda’s success in raising money through philanthropic efforts will be tested again this year as she is set to lead the city through a capital campaign to replace the fountain in Ely Square in time for the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2017.
The Ely Square fountain is shown July 27.
STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE Enlarge
The city’s 200th birthday is a perfect opportunity to present the legacy gift to the city, she said. But first, a communitywide effort to design the fountain and raise money for its construction must take place — and fast.
Brinda said the estimated cost is between $450,000 and $750,000. The campaign would run through the end of the year to have the fountain constructed by the beginning of July 2017.
“We are going to try,” Brinda said about the ambitious plan. “We’d rather plan for the optimal and scale back if we need to later. We will show folks what can be done and how it can be accomplished and go from there.”
The city is considering the fountain as the legacy gift because of the current one’s age, condition and importance to the city, Brinda said.
“We consider Ely Square our community’s living room, and the fountain has always been an important gathering place for people in that space,” she said. “It’s a beautiful attraction.”
It’s no secret that the fountain is in disrepair.
For years city officials, going back to retired Parks and Recreation Director Frank Gustoff, have talked about the maintenance needed each year to get the water flowing. Most recently, the condition of the fountain became a talking point when someone, unbeknownst to the city, used dye to turn the water in the fountain blue the day before the annual Kerstetter 5K and Family Walk.
Law Director Scott Serazin described the fountain as being “on its last leg” when discussing why the initial request from a city employee to dye the water was turned down and why his office began looking into who did it.
The culprit in that incident has not been found.
But that did raise an interesting question about how the city can honor certain community groups and holidays with the fountain.
“I’ve gotten letters from people on the subject, which only shows how interested people are in the fountain,” Brinda said. “A lot of Elyrians remember different fountains in the square and some want to see how we can light the fountain with different colored lights. I like that idea, too. But I don’t want to taint the discussion with my thoughts. I want to hear from the community.”
Two public meetings next week will give residents the ability to talk about what they would like to see in a new fountain.
“The current fountain’s mechanics and infrastructure are failing, and we want to make sure we have a grand fountain in place in time for our big celebration next year,” Brinda said. “The city will be launching a capital campaign later this summer to help raise the philanthropic funds necessary to help build a fountain worthy of our beautiful town square.”
The exact age of the fountain is debatable. According to records from the Parks and Recreation Department, a fountain was dedicated in Ely Square the summer of 1959 after a community campaign of close to two years raised the $25,000 needed. That would suggest the fountain is 57 years old.
The fountain is one of many legacy projects planned around the bicentennial. A series of murals will dot the downtown landscape, too.
Public meetings notice
Two meetings are set for Aug. 2 at Elyria City Hall, 131 Court St.
- Noon to 1 p.m. in the third floor conference room at City Hall
- 7 to 8 p.m. in the second floor Elyria City Council Chambers
Reservations are not required, but appreciated.
For more information or to make a reservation, call (440) 326-1402.