Easton City Council ready to spring funds to renovate historic fountain
Easton City Council appears ready to make good on its promise to help with the renovation of a historic fountain that a neighborhood group has been planning for almost a decade.
Hubert Etchison of the College Hill Neighborhood Association presented the $205,000 plan publicly for the first time Wednesday night. It includes not only restoring the non-working fountain in Nevin Park, but also extending the Karl Stirner Arts Trail and placing several historic markers along the route.
The city's share will be $75,000: $44,000 in cash and the rest in in-kind services, including preparation and demolition work and utilities installation.
Mayor Sal Panto, noting that the $44,000 is already in the city's capital budget, said his administration is "100 percent on board." Council member Jeffrey Warren called the plan "a truly visionary project."
City administrator Glenn Steckman said he could have a resolution giving the association the $44,000 prepared in time for council's next meeting.
The association still has some fundraising left to do to pay for the project, which has been in the planning stage for eight years.
The group has raised $21,695, but even with the city's $75,000 contribution, needs to come with another $108,305. Etchison said he expects $90,000 of that total to come in grants, and that the association will raise the remaining $18,305.
The fountain that is the focal point of the association's project was originally built in Centre Square as a celebration of clean water, Etchison explained. It was moved to Nevin Park in 1899 to make way for the Civil War Memorial that still stands in the Square; was disassembled for maintenance in the 1920s, and melted down for scrap during World War II, he said.
The new fountain will be a pre-made one from Robison Iron, of Marietta, Ga., that closely mirrors the original and costs $37,500, Etchison said. Recreating the original from scratch would cost $367,500, said Etchison, adding, "It would take a lot of yard sales" to raise that kind of money.
The $205,000 budget will pay for buying and shipping the fountain and a concrete slab to place it on; a seating area; plantings, and a historical memorial, as well as a grant writer and a project manager, Etchison said.
The association also plans to establish a fund to maintain the fountain and refurbish it in 25 years, he added.
The Karl Stirner Arts Trail would be extended from the base of College Avenue and North 3rd Street up College Hill, Etchison said. There would be two paths -- one for "strong walkers," the other for "leisurely walkers."
The additional markers would commemorate the role played by the Delaware River in the American Revolution; the Lenni Lenape tribe that originally inhabited the area; the Lehigh Canal; the1955 flood, and the history of the fountain itself.
Council member Warren was especially touched by Etchison's presentation about the fountain, which is often referred to the Rock Pile, because it resembles a pile of rocks.
Warren recalled that as a 6-year-old waiting for the bus to take him to camp, he and his friends would race to the top of the pile.
That prompted Panto to joke, "You can put them in your yard if you miss them that much."
"I'll pass on that for now," Warren replied with a smile.
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