The Truth Behind Fountain Park’s Funding

How was Fountain Park Paid for?

Peruse comments on social media in response to news reports about Rock Hill’s Fountain Park and you will see a myriad angry Rock Hill residents and a barrage of ugly putdowns about it being a waste of taxpayers’ money.

So when it was reported that Fountain Park is still having repairs done, it was noted that Jimmy Bagley, Deputy City Manager, said that most of the cost of the work is being incurred by the parties that built it.

Most of the cost…

We reached out to Mr. Bagley to clarify some things. When asked what “most of the costs” meant, he explained that the city’s only cost will be for overseeing the repair project to make sure everything goes smoothly since the city has “retained outside consultants to verify the design and help monitor the repair work to make sure we obtain a product that will be functional and aesthetically pleasing for many years to come.”

Fountain Park’s Funding

This is good news but still doesn’t address all the negativity surrounding Rock Hill’s Fountain Park, so we dug into the true funding of the park and found that, while a portion of the park was paid for by the city, the fountain’s funding source has simply been overlooked during times of trouble, prompting complaint about the fountain, but nary a word about the park itself.

Angry Facebook Mob’s Hate is Unfounded

DELETE? (Here’s news for all you nay-sayers that would rather have had the money go to something else or think the fountain was a waste of money in general:)

One commenter on the Herald’s Facebook page complained that the one-million to build the fountain didn’t go to “horrible pothole filled roads.”

There has also been trouble accepting the idea the fountain will be shut-down, not only through the summer but supposedly during winter months as well in order to keep pipes from freezing, despite the fountain’s opening day was during ChristmasVille. Which last time we checked occurred during the winter.

However, repairs are expected to continue through the end of August, giving ample time during the fall to enjoy the waterworks if the fountain does go into hibernation for the winter.

Others say the city might as well have just built a skate park, not a fountain, which clearly would have been enjoyed by just as a diverse crowd as those who enjoy the fountain. Additionally, the skate park folks were wondering why there was no funding for such a thing, not knowing where the funding for the fountain came from might change their tune, but more on that coming up.

Countless commenters rage about how the money would have been better spent on this repair or that repair and that their taxes were ultimately misspent. But here’s the clincher…

The fountain itself was paid for by a $1.2 million grant from the Foundation of the Carolinas.

The Future of Fountain Park in Rock Hill

The fountain in question is under a three-year warranty that city officials intend to expand further to be sure that you, the taxpayers, won’t have to front the bill if or when the grant-funded fountain needs repairs. All routine maintenance work on the fountain is covered by Leitner Construction of Rock Hill and W.P. Law of Lexington, S.C.  which serves as the fountain’s fluid handling subcontractor.

You Can’t Throw Coins into a Skate Park

It’s worth highlighting that W.P. Law and Leitner Construction are located in Rock Hill and Lexington S.C. respectively and that W.P. Law is responsible for collecting change thrown into the fountains, which Rock Hill donates to the school district. Two overlooked ways the park is keeping money in the area as well as the state economies.

Paying for Fountain Park

Transformed from an unsightly parking lot to something aesthetically pleasing and functional that can be integrated into countless other events, Fountain Park has succeeded in its attempt to beautify an under-utilized area of Old Town as part of Downtown East, a project who’s mission is to develop downtown east of Saluda Street.

While the park’s property wasn’t funded by a grant, it was a $5 million investment that overhauled a space that will serve as a cash cow for Rock Hill.

The Continuing Importance of Fountain Park, sans Fountain

Fountain Park is now home to events like Food Truck Fridays, Yoga in the Park (thanks to Synergy Yoga), part of ChristmasVille, and is also incorporated into Old Town Market. The park also includes a central green space and a small outdoor performance venue bringing and keeping money in our local economy.

So think twice the next time doubt creeps in when you don’t look past the fountain and into the rest of the area. This is an investment for the long term, regardless of where funding has come from or whether the fountain is in operation at any given time.

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