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On Jan. 28, the Planning and Development Committee took initial steps toward replacing the current fountain with a new water feature. Staff will begin investigating a proposed nationwide competition to design and replace the current fountain within the next two or three years.

The time is right to consider replacement, said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, because “big-ticket maintenance” will become necessary over the next two to three years. Given the magnitude of the expense, Council should think about replacing the fountain, “or not,” he said.

Doug Gaynor, the City’s director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service, said that as time goes by, the current fountain continues to deteriorate and coming repairs will be “significant.” He said the fountain, installed in 1976, required minor repairs in 2006.

“I think it’s a terrific idea” to replace the current fountain, said Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward. “Fountain Square looks like it was designed in the ‘70s.”
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said a redesigned square could be used in more creative ways “for all members of the community.”

Alderman Judy Fiske, whose First Ward includes Fountain Square, has championed a replacement fountain for some time. She proposed a competition seeking “creative ideas from artists across the country.” She said that her research indicated an expected price tag of about $1 million, which she said she anticipated would be at least partially privately funded, with “perhaps some funds from the Washington National TIF.”

New fountain technology exists, she said, making costs feasible.

Preempting a possible April Fool’s story, Ald. Fiske joked about a possible beer fountain given the proximity of the newly opened World of Beer.

Mr. Bobkiewicz jumped in by suggesting possible homage to the old Milwaukee Brewers Stadium, having the beer slide into a beer mug.

The committee then voted to take the next step by directing staff to report back on what would be involved in a national design competition. New ideas may be flowing into the City very soon.