Michelle Monroe, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS CITY — When the Taylor Park fountain returns this fall, it will have a new pool will be surrounded by up to 16 granite benches, each bearing the names of people who contributed to its restoration.
The Rotary Club of St. Albans has taken on the task of raising the funds for the fountain restoration. Those efforts were given a boost this week, when the Downtown Merchants Group presented Rotary with a check for $5,000 from the Chair Affair auction on Saturday.
Approximately 250 tickets were sold to the event, said Marty Manahan, the city’s director of business development. Thirty Adirondack chairs decorated by both amateur and professional artists and sponsored by local businesses, sold for a range of $200 to $800.
The leading moneymaker was the floral chair from What A Yarn, painted Paulette Gingras, which went for $800. The chair from Kevin Smith’s Sports sold for $750. Painted by artist Jon Young, it featured a ski lift.
“If far exceeded our expectations,” said Manahan. The merchants group retained some of the funds raised to support their efforts to promoted downtown businesses.
The fountain, currently in Alabama being refurbished, will return early next month. The formal unveiling and a gala will take place Oct. 3.
The delay is intended to allow time to troubleshoot the new plumbing and lighting, explained Peter Garceau, an engineer with Cross Consulting Engineers, who has volunteered his expertise to the fountain project.
The fountain, purchased for the city by Civil War era Gov. J. Gregory Smith, was installed in the 1880s.
Robinson Iron, the company doing the restoration, has the original molds for the fountain and has used them to create new aluminum statues to replace the original maidens, cherubs and water nymph. The center, iron portions of the fountain have been cleaned and restored, and the entire work repainted black, with a verdigris-highlighting coat.
While the fountain was restored, Garceau and the Rotary Club of St. Albans have worked on the pool.
Previously, there was a walkway only along the west side of the pool. “That was used to shore up the rings,” said Garceau, referring to the sides of the pool.
The new sidewalk, which is complete, goes around the entire pool.
The base of the pool was replaced with new rebar-reinforced concrete. Originally, the city and Rotary had considered just repairing the pool.
“We decided to replace the whole thing and do it right,” said Garceau. “We’re in there. We’re excavating … Now’s the time to fix it and fix it right.”
Fixing it right has increased the cost from $225,000 to $298,000.
Club members voted to take on the additional effort needed to raise the funds for the pool work, said Garceau.
“I think it’s important to understand it’s expensive,” said Garceau. “We’re seeing it through.”
Garceau’s fellow Rotarian Dana Rocheleau pointed out the work would be more expensive without Garceau. Not only has the engineer volunteered his own time, but he’s used his connections with contractors to recruit companies to do the work.
Harrison Concrete has done the cement work. “They’ve thrown in a couple of extras for us,” said Garceau.
Matt Tabor, of East Fairfield, who owns RMB Excavating, has done the excavation at cost and is absorbing the cost of repointing the concrete rings around the pool, said Garceau.
Surveying the work completed so far on Tuesday, Garceau was pleased with the result. “I think when the water hits that it’s going to sparkle,” he said.