Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our fountain is failing!

The fountain at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando has long been a symbol of the city. In fact, it is even featured prominently on our municipal flag, and in the corner of all the downtown street signs. Today, though, it seems to be more reflective of the area's economic suffering.

Yesterday, the city council budgeted $25,000 to come up with a detailed diagnosis of its ailments and develop an action plan. But, it's painfully obvious to anyone strolling around the park that surrounds Lake Eola what the problems are:

* The water that used to cycle thru dancing jets of arcing patterns now only shoots straight out the top.

* The colorful exterior lights that used to accompany the water display only work on one side.

The icon once dubbed "The Millenium Fountain," but later dedicated to the memory of local banker/philanthropist Linton Allen, was installed in 1957, replacing a more aged version dedicated in 1912 to Mayor E.F. Sperry. It cost a whopping $162,000 (about $1.2 million in today's weak currency).

The city hasn't done any major work on the fountain in over twenty years, though they do pay a local contractor $54,000 a year for cleaning and maintenance.

I understand there were negotiations with Sea World to update the fountain through a corporate sponsorship, which would have included the addition of a music system to accompany the water and light display. But, those talks ended when Anheuser Busch sold the theme park to a new, foreign parent company: InBev (from Belgium).

What I don't understand is why InBev wouldn't be just as interested in being a good corporate citizen . . .

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