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Liz Carpenter Fountain closed to splashers

Thursday, April 29, 2010 by Austin Monitor

Thousands of little feet — and a lot of bigger ones — jump in and out of the Liz Carpenter Fountain at Butler Park next to the Palmer Events Center each weekend. Austin Monthly magazine even featured splashing in the fountain at the top of its list of “110 Fun Things to Do in the Summer.”
But Austin Parks Director Sara Hensley told In Fact Daily Wednesday that the fountain is closed — at least for now. She said the fountain was “a victim of its own success.”
“The filtration system keeps shutting down,” she said, “especially on weekends,” when most people like to visit. Currently, Hensley said, the fountain has a broken pipe, but that is not the overall problem, which seems to be related to the attraction’s heavy use.
“We don’t want kids in it if (the water) isn’t turned over 100 percent,” Hensley said, because of health concerns. She said there is currently a sign warning would-be splashers that the fountain is closed. She added that it is unlikely to open again this weekend or next.
In addition to the worries about the broken pipe and filtration system, the Parks Department is concerned about the fountain not meeting new state health regulations, which Hensley said would go into effect in a few weeks.
The Parks Department has already planned a new “splash pad” for the children’s area of Butler Park that may replace the Liz Carpenter Fountain as the place for children to jump, Hensley said. However, it will be another year before that new facility opens.
In the meantime, Hensley said, the Parks Department is evaluating fixes for the fountain. They include contacting Energy Engineering Associates, the group that designed the popular fountain, to see if they can figure out a way to reopen the attraction to its loving public.

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