.

Future of Dearborn’s Henry Ford Centennial Library Fountain Uncertain

The iconic feature of the city’s biggest library may soon be gone due to mounting repair costs.

In another battle of legacy versus value, the city of Dearborn is contemplating doing away with the fountain.

Built in the 1960s along with the library on land donated by Ford Motor Company and with money granted by the Ford Foundation, the fountain is in substantial disrepair. The motor broke during a power outage in 2011, while the concrete slabs surrounding the structure are unstable, and the fountain itself leaks.

A recent analysis found that it will cost around $5,000 to replace the motor–but nearly a quarter of a million dollars to completely repair the fountain properly. Annual maintenance costs amount to around $30,000-$40,000.

“The fountain has too many problems,” said Mayor Jack O’Reilly at a recent budget meeting. “The cost of maintaining it as a working fountain isn’t sustainable.”

“We need to come up with something that will look aesthetically pleasing, but with the lowest amount of capital forward,” he added.

Library Director Maryanne Bartles on Friday presented several options to the Library Commission as to how to handle the problem–including installing a smaller fountain, paving over the structure, or removing it and replacing it with a memorial garden that would include the existing statue of Henry Ford, surrounded by decorative lighting and landscaping.

Commissioner Robert Taub said he felt the garden was the best option, but that the city would have to find people to maintain it.

Commission Chair Marcel Pultorak added that the Garden Club “has been very supportive of landscape maintenance and the like … and I believe it’s the best option.”

Some, however, have not been so quick to embrace the idea of replacing the structure.

The fountain was last repaired in 2000, thanks to a $250,000 donation from a local family.

Commissioner David Schlaff suggested that the Ford Family might be willing to foot the bill this time around.

“You’ve got some deep pockets with the Ford family … and it may be something they want to maintain,” he said. “I think we should explore all opportunities first before we go and bulldoze the thing.”

However, even if a grant is obtained to fix the fountain, the maintenance costs still fall on the city’s shoulders. In a time when every department is taking cuts, some felt that the cost was unreasonable.

“I would rather see the money go into city services than a decorative fountain,” Pultorak said.

The cost of turning the space into a garden would be minimal to the city, and the city is still looking for partners to help create and maintain the garden.

Correction: A previous version of this article mentioned that the city was looking to partner with the Penske Group on a garden that could replace the fountain. That is incorrect. The Penske Group is working with the city and the Garden Club on a separate, smaller garden.

AndreaVH April 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM
I would like to see a smaller fountain there....maybe still in white or marble but in the Italian style. I always enjoy the peaceful sounds of the water, and it does drown out the street traffic noise. I would also like to see more benches or table/chair combinations around the area.
Peder Blohm April 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM
How about Artspace doing an installation/sculpture as a part of purchasing CIty Hall and a commitment of keeping it up to date. The theme could be Ford family or Ford production?cars
becki kain April 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
interesting that the power outtage last year took it out. It took out a lot of things in our house and DTE won't do anything about it. They said "oh, you didn't lose power for that long (10 days in total)".
Donna Hay April 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM
How about hitting those deep Ford pockets for money for the small pools. Our children can't swim in a fountain - do something useful for a change. Peder is so on the mark with Artspace, let the residents see just exactly what it is they do.
Frank Lee April 16, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Another Dearborn landmark gone under this pathetic mayor. Dearborn towers gone, Dearborn small pools gone, Snow branch gone, and now the HFCC fountain going to be gone. According to the mayor these unique and cultural assets are unaffordable luxeries, yet his appointees are given six figure salaries and double digit bonuses and raises. He still subsidizes rent for the Dearborn Chamber of Commerace, uses community fund monies to support the Homecoming, wants to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars into camp Dearborn and bike trails, all the while attempting to build a convention center next to a bankrupt, outdated, and worn hotel. He constantly attempts to destroy any redeemable features about our city in an extremely lame attempt to create a Dearborn that never was or never will be. His latest attempt to give away our iconic city hall and build a new one at a cost estimated as high as twenty million dollars is criminally stupid. His moronic crusade to build a convention center, when all evidence shows convention centers are unused 9/10's of the calander year, drain resources, and serve no public good for the majority of citizens is ridiculous. The idea that he wants to build it in partnership with a hotel that is financially troubled, outdated, and rated as below average by business travelers is scary. Lastly soliciting advice from Plutorak is equivalent to preventing fires by hiring an arsonist as fire chief. It was his financial advice that created this mess
M. Doher April 16, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Putting money into this fountain is wasteful. I believe it should be removed and a new and simple design would be nice. Some beautiful landscaping and a simple water feature would be eye appleaing.
Pat Niedermeyer April 16, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I KNOW THE FOUNTAIN IS IN BAD SHAPE, AND THE CITY CANT AFFORD TO PRESERVE IT IN ITS NATURAL STATE. SO,THEN LETS REPLACE IT WITH A SMALLER ONE USING THE MARBLE WE ALREADY HAVE IN THE OLD FOUNTAIN AND ERECT A FOUNTAIN THAT WOULD REFLECT CLARA FORD'S ROSE GARDEN.IT WOULD BE A FITTING TRIBUTE TO HER HUSBAND HENRY FORD.THERE IS ENOUGH MARBLE FOR BENCHES AND LANDSCAPING. I AM SURE THERE ARE PEOPLE IN DEARBORN QUALIFIED TO DESIGN AND CONSTRUCT IT AT A REASONABLE COST AND COULD BE EASILY MAINTAINED BY THE GARDEN CLUBS FROM DONATIONS OR FUND RAISERS.
Lee Jacobsen April 16, 2012 at 03:27 PM
The Ford family no doubt has some disposable funds available to continue the Ford Legacy in the public realm, and , with the fountain and statue in close proximinty to Ford HQ, it would be positive publicity to Ford and Dearborn to either restore it or renovate to a more useful design.. The fountain could be redesigned with the thought of a 'car' park rather than a people park, with places for cars to stop and enjoy the view, both fountain and the HQ. Smaller car shows could be held there as well, and it could also serve as a staging area for tours etc. Has the city contacted the Ford Family yet for mutual planning and funding?
grapenut April 16, 2012 at 03:46 PM
fill in and use as a skate board ramp for kids.. there should be no trouble with the kids being so close to police. I like the idea of Garden. People that grow food will show up to help maintain.. they are just that way,proud to do it. Maybe a sitting arrangment with tables.. filling in the space for a gezeebo? Lets update instead of tearing down?
Dominic Raona April 16, 2012 at 04:14 PM
This is something the City should spend money on. Come on - what about the family that donated a 1/4 Million Dollars to refurbish it a few years ago? What does the city tell them? "Thanks, your money kept the fountain going for 2 more years!" I don't think it was the family's intent to fix the fountain so the city could let it deteriorate (like they have apparently let happen to City Hall). The fountain is beautiful, it is a shame the City can not keep up the aesthetic beauty in this city! SO sad!!
City of Dearborn (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 04:21 PM
The discussion about contacting the Ford family happened on Friday afternoon at the Library Commission meeting, so I don't believe the city has been in touch with them yet, but it is in the works.
Marium Wilke April 16, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I am in shock..not this beautiful structure you see when you come off of the exspressways into Dearborn...I can't believe they want to take the Library fountain now..I hate to ask whats next...Just like the pools when the getting was good no one was watching the back door..I agree stop putting all the money into a place we can only enjoy if we drive 50 miles...haven't been there in 30 yrs..and were still paying for everything thats there...and anything new thats coming up..I can't see that place from where i live..Who's enjoying that ?Milford,and the surrounding areas? I like PAT N.'s idea that is a great way to still make it look valuable for years to come..and i like the idea of asking the Ford family to give some help...This would be some good net working for the compnay..They can always use that.. It's so peacefull and beautiful how did we let this happen..We left a jewel in Dearborn break apart....We need to weigh out all the options here before they decide to take another one of Dearborns Gems...Very sad to hear this...
Pat Niedermeyer April 16, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I LIKE THE IDEA OF A GAZEBO. BUT LETS TAKE A BIT FARTHER AND PUT IN A SMALL BAND SHELL AND THE HIGH SCHOOL BANDS AND SMALL MUSICAL GROUPS COULD ENTERTAIN THERE, AND IN THE WINTER THEY COULD PUT IN A SMALL ICE RINK FOR SKATING LIKE IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS. THERE ARE SO MANY LITTLE OR NO COST OPTIONS FOR THAT SPACE ARE ONLY LIMITED BY THE CITY'S IMAGINATION..OR WE COULD JUST LEAVE IT THE WAY IT IS NOW.PULL OUT THE PLUMBING AND SELL IT BUY AND PLACE A STATUE INSIDE OF O'RIELY JR AS A TESTIMONIAL TO THE WAY HE RAN THE CITY WE ALL LOVE. BOB
Rita Dennaoui April 17, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Is there any more gems in Dearborn. He our lovely mayor has sold everything in site, and destroyed every thing in site. Mr. Mayor ask the idiots who supposedly serve your office, give some of their wages. I cannot continue to contribute to a city that has failed its people. It is so sad to see Dearborn be destroyed by idiots. Put up for sale, since I am Arabic, I can tell you when Lebanon was Lebanon, my memory of a lovely garden with iron gates and lovely fountains, and people sitting around enjoying their water pipes and vendors selling roasted nuts and corn, You get the picture. Better yet, ask Ford, to help they have money
samharker April 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I'll be looking for your name among the mayoral candidates come next election.
S. Pearl April 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Sadly...I think Dearborn will slowly fall victim to the same blight and flight that Detroit has experienced. As a result, gradually all of the landmarks that once made the city great will be abandoned, fall into disrepair and then will be torn down. The libraries and pools are being closed, City Hall may be up for sale, the grand library fountain slated to be torn down....what's next? These are all symbols of what made Dearborn a great place to live in. I was born here, went to school here both K-12 and college, I work in Dearborn and live here as well. Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall for me, and it is with a heavy heart that I am placing my home on the market and moving elsewhere before Dearborn, like Detroit becomes a place I no longer recognize.
Lee Jacobsen April 20, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Pearl, How do you know the walls elsewhere will have better writings? The same bleak future was predicted for Royal Oak, now it is trendy. Dearborn has too many pluses that are waiting to be exploited, all it needs is some innovative folk to turn it around. A City theme of some sort would be a plus. With the train station becoming more prominent, folk from other places will come to Dearborn to see the sights, we just have to make them viable for viewing. We can start with free parking, and being friendlier to businesses so they will want to set up shop here in Dearborn and sell goods to all those new visitors. We can build a better city hall, a better fountain, and alternatives for libraries, ie information centers see this: http://www.collegeonline.org/library/librarians-online/future-librarians.html Dearborn will reinvent itself, check back when you can and check it out.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something