As the saying goes, "You never miss the water 'til the well runs dry." One tipster says he is definitely missing the water - in many of the city's dried-up, broken-down fountains.
"I'm writing to express my disgust for how the city neglects the dozens of fountains across the city," writes Sean Briel. "I'm a resident of the Fenway, and just down from the street from me on Westland Ave. there are two lion-head fountains. Both of which are falling apart and full of trash."
A visit by a Globe reporter last week found the Westland Avenue fountains rather hard to identify since, at first glance, they don't look like fountains. The green-and-black, bronze lion heads are attached to the sides of the tall stone pillars known to many as the "Westland Gate." The fountain heads were dry and their catch basins collecting rainwater, leaves, and rubbish. Meanwhile, the stone pillars appeared cracked and dirty, with green moss and weeds growing at the base.
"Why doesn't the city take advantage of the dozens of schools in our neighborhoods that don't pay taxes to pitch in some money," says Briel. "Why can't Northeastern, Wentworth, or Mass. Art help restore this fountain? These fountains were built hundreds of years ago with little technology and faced the same harsh New England weather we face today. Residents do not want to hear excuses, we expect solutions. I hope that the city puts some money in these works of art."
The city responds
"These fountains are on a list of projects to be repaired by the Parks Department," replied Mary Hines, a spokeswoman for the department, via e-mail. "Westland Gate was designed by Guy Lowell, architect of the nearby MFA. Originally called the Johnson Memorial Fountain, it was built in 1905 in memory of a wealthy Bostonian named Jesse Johnson by his wife. Each of the two square pillars flanking the street has four bronze lions near its base."
The city is moving one project at a time through a list of fountains that need repairs or upgrades to ensure they conserve water by recirculating it. "The project for this year is Brewer Fountain that was given to the city in 1867; this too will be restored and be a recirculating fountain," Hines said. The Brewer Fountain restoration will cost more than $400,000 plus additional funds for the "extraordinary maintenance" the fountain requires, money that will come from private sources, she said. "Brewer is in design and will be started" by late August or early September, she added. "The Friends of the Public Garden/Boston Common and the Solomon Foundation are raising money for the endowment as they did for the Ether Fountain."
Several other fountains around the city will also be getting much-needed work soon, said Hines. "Statler Park Fountain [in Park Square] is in design and work will begin shortly to repair this art piece. Blackstone and Franklin fountains [in the South End] are next on the list and will have new plumbing and electricity installed to make them recirculating - work will also be done on the bowls," she said. Additionally, the four fountains in the Public Garden, as well as fountains in Copley Square, Thompson Square in Charlestown, the Prado and Christopher Columbus Park in the North End, Braddock Park in Back Bay, Concord Square and Union Park in the South End, Bay Village Park, Putnam Square in East Boston, and Ramler Park in the Back Bay Fens are all in line to be fixed up.
WHO'S IN CHARGE
Antonia Pollak, commissioner, Parks and Recreation Department
1010 Massachusetts Ave. 3d Floor Boston, MA 02118
GlobeWatch Working for progress around the city