No longer functional and too expensive to repair, two fountains on the east side of the Salt Palace Convention Center soon will be replaced.
The long, narrow fountain in front of Abravanel Hall will disappear this fall when Salt Lake County, which operates downtown convention and cultural facilities, begins reshaping symphony hall’s outer plaza into an urban park.
A block to the south, a fountain at the 100 South and West Temple entrance to the Salt Palace will give way to a still-to-be-selected work of art.
The County Council made that possible last week in approving a request by Community Services Director Erin Litvack to buy the art with $120,000 in unspent funds from another Salt Palace project.
She said the money was left over from a $3.6 million upgrade of the Salt Palace’s escalator system. It will supplement $85,000 already budgeted for public art there.
"We need to enliven and create a more appropriate entry to the Salt Palace," Litvack said, noting that "$85,000 was not sufficient to do something that adds impact and power to such a large facility."
Fixing up that entry is a top priority of a county committee that oversees convention facilities at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City and the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy, she said.
An examination of the 100 South fountain did not clarify why it has not worked for a couple of years, Litvack said, adding that an extended search for the cause would have required digging beneath the Salt Palace.
To repair the fountain would have been "an exorbitant expense," she said. A better solution is to replace it with public art at the same time that repairs are made to entry railings scarred by skateboarders.
The fountain bears a plaque noting it was donated "to the community by the people of O. C. Tanner and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation" in 1996, when the county opened the convention center after its $85 million renovation.
The county’s plan has the support of O. C. Tanner officials, even if the fountain’s demise is rather sad.
"Obert Tanner loved to design, build and donate fountains because they add beauty and serenity that all of us enjoy," said Dave Petersen, the company’s CEO. "However, like anything else that is constructed, fountains have a limited life. We support the continued growth and development of downtown."
Councilman Richard Snelgrove voted against the transfer, contending the county would be better off saving the money instead of finding somewhere else to spend it. But he was alone in his objections and lost on a 6-1 vote.
Litvack said the fountain by Abravanel Hall also has not functioned for at least two years and worked only sporadically before that. In addition, the surrounding concrete pad that makes up most of the hall’s plaza entry is starting to break up, causing safety hazards.
"Aesthetically, it’s not the most beautiful area," she said, hailing a plan endorsed by the symphony board that will produce a "creative, inviting urban environment for people to enjoy."
The concrete pad will be replaced with trees and grass, and outfitted with tables and chairs "so people can sit down and eat their lunch there," Litvack said. The site also can be adapted for concerts, she added, and will include light posts with speakers "so we can pipe out music from symphony hall into the plaza."
This project is in its final design stage, with construction set to begin late this fall. Both projects should be completed by the end of 2015, Litvack added.
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