‘Busted Plug’ sculpture to get new home in Finlay Park

cleblanc@thestate.comJune 18, 2013 

— A splash pad for children that would feature a well-known fire hydrant sculpture likely will be built in a low-lying corner of Finlay Park, Columbia City Council decided Tuesday.

Council voted 4-1 to accept the consultant's recommendation to build the interactive water feature near the corner of Taylor and Gadsden streets. Councilman Moe Baddourah voted no. Tameika Isaac Devine and Leona Plaugh were absent.

But council did not vote yet on whether to build a consultant's version of the water feature that would become a “destination” site. Glenn Clonts of W.P. Law Inc. presented a design to council replete with a landscaped, tiered plaza and meandering walkways that would connect the splash pad to the city's fledgling greenway as well as to other parts of the downtown park.

Council also endorsed a recommendation to connect the “Busted Plug” splash pad to the nearby pond already in the park. It would be cheaper, would eliminate the need for review by the state and would be safer for children to not build a separate, recirculating system for the pad, Clonts said.

Council previously set a $450,000 cap on the project. But that was before W.P. Law's fountain division presented its plan. Council authorized city manager Teresa Wilson to negotiate a final plan.

Clonts' plan is to operate the splash pad with its intermittent plumes of water from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During the rest of the year, water would flow only from the cracks in the huge, listing hydrant, which artist Blue Sky designed to look as if it had been knocked from its foundation.

Council did not endorse the artist's preferred location at the top of the park, near Assembly and Laurel streets.

But Blue Sky will continue to work with the consultants on the final version of the pad.

A local bank, which commissioned the sculpture years ago, donated it to the city because it is selling the property where it has stood.

Assistant city manager Allison Baker, who oversees the parks department, has said consistently the splash pad would cost more than $450,000.

Council did not set a timetable for a final decision or a price tag.

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