ROCKINGHAM — The aging Harrington Square fountain has come to the end of its life and will be replaced in the coming months.
The fountain, which is more than 40 years old, has had severe leaking issues despite a series of repairs and has not been used since 2016, according to Assistant City Manager John Massey.
“Any additional repairs are no longer feasible,” Massey said in an email. “I believe we attempted to operate it some in 2016 and finally gave up — hasn’t been used since.”
Mayor Steve Morris expressed frustration with the fountain.
“It’s been patched and patched and patches have been patched,” Morris said. “It was time to replace it.”
Contractors are currently submitting bids for the project. The bidding period ends on March 21. The city of Rockingham has set aside $135,000 for the construction of the new fountain, Massey said.
The new fountain will feature a pre-cast decorative bowl with a raised sphere in the middle where the water will emanate, according to the plans for project.
Replacing the fountain is part of an ongoing effort to improve the look of downtown Rockingham that began with the “Shaping Our Future: 2023” 10-year plan that was drafted in July 2013. In a public opinion survey conducted to help guide the city’s priorities at the time, 47.9 percent of residents rated “efforts to improve the appearance of the downtown area” as “very important.”
This was the third-highest percentage of issues considered “very important” behind “efforts to improve or repair existing roads for better and safer driving” at 51.8 percent and “efforts to involve citizens in the local planning process” at 48.6 percent, according to the city planning department.
Council member Anne Edwards, who served on the steering committee for the 10-year plan, said replacing the fountain is being done, in part, to compliment the coming Richmond Community College satellite campus.
“We wanted to make it a little more inconjuction with what the college would look like,” Edwards said.
Also as part of the effort to improve the appearance of Rockingham, the city has been more aggressive in enforcing building codes which has resulted in the demolition of 13 buildings and eight apartments that were dilapidated, according to the update materials Massey presented to the City Council on Tuesday. Property owners have also demolished six buildings and made repairs to two others following the city beginning condemnation proceedings.
Morris said the council’s main focus is on completing the RCC satellite campus.
“If you look at what Discovery Place did for downtown, RCC will do that or more to the other part of downtown,” Morris said.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]