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City may delay Flower Memorial Library fountain repairs

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The crumbling, bowl-shaped stone fountains in front of Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, 229 Washington St., probably will remain dry for another year.

That’s because the city engineering office did not receive any bids earlier this month to repair the pair of fountains. As a result, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk has again recommended postponing the $28,500 project until next year.

“It’s tough when you don’t get any bids,” said Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns, who had lobbied to get the project completed this year.

In March, the Watertown City Council insisted that the repairs be completed this year, even though Mr. Hauk suggested waiting a year and dovetailing the project with major facade improvements to the library so both could be completed at the same time.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hauk surmised that no one was interested in the fountain project because it was put out to bid so late in the year and it’s such a small job.

“I’m very curious why they didn’t,” Ms. Burns said.

The project will restore the fountains to how they appeared when library benefactor Emma Flower Taylor had them installed in 1906, two years after the library opened.

The fountains are in bad shape, and some of the slabs surrounding the bases have begun to separate because of ground heaving and people sitting on the edges. Under the plan, it will cost $12,000 to replace the fountains, $8,000 to install a drainage system and $8,500 to connect the fountains to water service.

Last year, some trustees also said they wanted the fountains to be removed.

In March, Mr. Hauk expressed concern that the refurbished fountains could be damaged if the work was finished before three other major projects — improvements to the building’s exterior, upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and repairs to the roof — were done first.

“It may be just as well,” said Barbara J. Wheeler, library director, who agreed that it would make more sense to complete all of the work at the same time. She also expressed concern that the fountains could be damaged while the other work was being done.

The $200,000 facade project also includes repairing the front marble fence, the two stone lion statues in front of the entrance and the deteriorating sidewalks and plaza. That work is included in the city’s 2012-13 capital improvement program.

The city also recently awarded a $98,900 contract to Sands Brothers Roofing Co., Antwerp, to repair the library’s roof; that work should start at the end of September.

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