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Goodale Park Fountain Could Flow Again Soon

The situation has been up and down at the pond at Goodale Park the past 20 months, literally. The installation of a new fountain created more problems than supporters imagined. But WOSU reports there's some good news...maybe. What goes up, must come down, right? Well, yes, if we're talking about gravity...or the water level at the pond at Goodale Park. But the Friends of Goodale Park board and the Columbus Recreation and Parks say they think the water level is finally stable after the pond was filled for a third time last month. "We believe at this time that we're satisfied that we feel we have solved the leak problem," Terri Leist, assistant director of Columbus Recreation and Parks, said. "We are still seeing a little bit of a loss each day," Leis said. "But we believe that's due to the high temperatures and just normal evaporation with that surface area of water. So we're feeling pretty good right now about what the pond is doing." The water is maybe a foot from the top, but that certainly beats being able to walk across the waterless pond just a month ago. Despite what's been called a stabilized level, Leist said before the fountain can be turned on, the well that pumps water into the pond may need to be updated. "Right now, that well pumps about 25 gallons a minute into the pond," she said. "And we believe we probably need to increase that once we turn the fountain on just to make sure we have enough water to and maintain enough water in the pond itself to maintain the fountain." The ups and downs The problems all began in 2010 when the city drained the pond to make way for the new $300,000 wedding cake-tiered fountain which has two elephant toppers that spew water from their little trunks.

"It's like whatever could happen, did happen." -- Stan Sells, Friends of Goodale Park board secretary, on on-going issues at Goodale Park pond

Stan Sell, who also chairs the fountain committee, said the fountain project had been in the works since 2002. And he said the Friends board was excited to finally get it underway. "Unfortunately during the wettest year on record, so that delayed our construction of it. And then we've had the problems with the pond leaking since then." By fall 2011, construction was finally complete. And the pond was filled. But about three days later all the water had drained out. Initially, the city's contribution to the project was a survey of the area and installation of the well. But it stepped up and installed $144, 000 worth of a clay substance to line the pond's floor and walls in an effort to stop the leak that tests couldn't find. Meanwhile, the empty pond and ongoing construction made for an ugly backdrop for local photo shoots and weddings that are popular at the park's gazebo. Amber Fox, who lives in the area and has witnessed the nearly two-year project, recalls her friend's wedding. "Unfortunately it was a very empty pond," Fox said. "You know, the memories on a day that's supposed to be one of the most special days in a woman's life, unfortunately had some side effects." Lemone Hammock lives a block from the park. And right now, Hammock said he's not sure the fountain - and the $150,000 worth of fixes - has been worth all the trouble. "I have witnessed the drainings, the refilling. Just how long for this fountain to be put in place and to see it work for a handful of days. So at the moment I don't actually think it's worth it," Hammock said. Hope for a long-term fix But sitting on a bench overlooking the pond after a morning run, Fox is optimistic, like many others, that the problem is fixed. "It's here now," Fox said. "So we should be thankful it's back to where it was. So hopefully it stays this way." Neither the city nor the friends board have been able to reach a definitive conclusion as to where or why the pond was leaking. Stan Sells said it could have been when the city first scraped out a lot of sludge from the pond's floor and took with it its original layer of bentonite, a clay substance that helps prevent leaks. But Sells said he cannot say that with certainty. "There was potential for leakage just on the bottom of the pond," Sells said. "And I think the structure itself, the fountain, we felt, Friends of Goodale, there needed to be a significant seal put around the foundation. And that's what we went ahead and paid additional to do that. So that was done just a couple of weeks ago." Since then, the pond was filled back up. And so far, so good. Sells and others hope the additional $8,000 seal will stave off any more leaks. Sells said the reaction when the fountain was on this spring was overwhelmingly positive. And he's anxious to get what he calls an arts installation pumping again. "We think this will be a major attraction, not only to Goodale Park, but to the short north." If all goes well, the fountain could be running in a few weeks. Only time will tell if the most recent fix will hold water.