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Downtown fountain gets a limited reprieve

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Publication: The Day

Published June 10. 2011 4:00AM   Updated June 13. 2011 8:35AM
New London planning monitors on Parade; merchants want police

New London - Water will soon start flowing again over the whale tail sculpture on the Parade, but only for a limited time during the day and with supervision.

The whale tail fountain became the center of national and international attention when it was shut down because of questions about the safety of the water.

A man who had soiled himself was found washing off in the fountain at the foot of State Street Friday morning, and by Monday the filter in the 7,000-pound bronze fountain, which recycles 100 gallons of water, remained clogged with debris.

The city turned off the water Monday morning.

The state Department of Public Health has inspected the sculpture and is requiring "enhanced services and infrastructure," according a news released issued late Thursday afternoon from the city manager's office.

The fountain will operate 10 a.m to 8 p.m. daily and will be monitored, but it was not clear who will do the monitoring. Also, a low wall will be installed around the fountain to deter people from running through the water cascading off the tail flukes and onto the sidewalk.

"The Whale Tail is a visual and passive recreation venue. It is not designed or intended, to be operated as an interactive attraction,'' the release said.

Also Thursday, a group of downtown property owners met and agreed to ask the city for a full-time police presence at the Parade, the train station and around the entire transportation hub to prevent further incidents like the man in the fountain.

Members of City Center District, which includes about 150 property owners, also wants the city to pass an ordinance that would help police keep people from sleeping on benches and spreading their belongings around the plaza. The ordinance would be aimed at making sure no one interferes with another's enjoyment of the area.

City Councilor Michael Buscetto III, who is the head of the council's public safety committee, attended the meeting and said he would bring the group's concerns to the council.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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