By Pete Bridge
Point Park News Service
Barring bad weather this upcoming winter, the long-awaited $9.6 million project on the Point State Park fountain is expected to be completed in the upcoming summer of 2013.
The project is part of an overall improvement to the state park which will include new seating near the fountain, lighting, and more, according to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“We believe that when the entire park is complete next year, the public will think it was well worth the wait and that is an important representation of Pittsburgh’s renaissance,” said Christina Novak, press secretary for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The fountain was turned off in the summer of 2009, with the construction process beginning in 2011. With the construction being a long, grueling process, many people think the construction is behind schedule.
“The improvements to the actual fountain are on schedule, but we did have to turn the fountain off before we got to that phase because it was not working properly,” Novak said.
Last year’s winter weather allowed construction workers to continue working on the improvements. Therefore, the construction on the fountain is ahead of schedule, but the overall project on Point State Park is behind schedule. The fountain is just one part of the overall $35 million project on the park.
“We unfortunately had several years where flooding was a factor stopping construction for up to a month and a half with water in the park and the cleanup that is involved after a flood event,” said Mathew Greene, the park manager.
According to a press release from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources states that fountain will feature new surfaces, pumps, and lighting. One of the larger upgrades is a feature described as a “disappearing edge waterfall.”
The press release outlines the final stages for the fountain. There will be an installation of pumps and pipes in November, and new lighting and a desk installed in March of 2013. Final details and tests will take place in April.
The $35 million, which is being used to fund the project, comes from the state’s capital budget. Governor Corbett and the General Assembly approved the budget.
The upcoming winter, just like last year, could impact the progress. If this winter has long periods of snowfall, the construction could be delayed.
“It is impossible to predict the amount of bad weather and flooding we may receive in the next nine to ten months that will affect the completion date of the fountain,” said Greene.
The fountain is a symbol of Pittsburgh that attracts tourists from many areas. New Jersey resident Katherine Datz distinctly remembers the fountain on different occasions.
“I went to a wedding about 25 or 30 years ago and my cousin got married at the fountain and he had to plan it a year in advance to have the fountain go off when he got married,” said Datz, who is originally from Pittsburgh.
Datz and others appreciate the fountain and have a hard time seeing Point State Park without the fountain streaming water into the air with the city in the background.
“My parents have a picture of the city and the major part of the Point is the fountain going off. It’s very symbolic of the area,” said Katz, who was visiting her brother who lives on Mt. Washington.
A ceremony has been planned for the upcoming summer to celebrate the completion of the project.
”We do intend to have a dedication and community celebration at the park in early summer,” Novak said. “We hope it will include art and music.”