BELPRE - City officials and crews have begin this year's largest beautification project with the removal of the fountain between Washington Boulevard and Putnam Howe Drive and plans in place to revamp the space.
"The old fountain had cracked over the years after being out in the hot summer and cold winter and it was time to change things," said city auditor Leslie Pittenger.
The city and Belpre in Bloom committee have chosen the empty space between the two busy streets to upgrade after the Belpre Rotary Club replanted and improved the smaller area beside it last year.
This week city crews removed the old fountain and tilled the dirt and will soon be packed down for concrete to be poured for the creation of the foundation of the new four-tier foutain and the 8-foot-wide pool that will serve as its base, according to Mayor Mike Lorentz.
"Forms for the concrete are being built now and hope to pour the concrete next week," Lorentz said. "Plans are to have the fountain going in the beginning of June."
Once the fountain is in place, landscaping can begin and will include large river rock as ground cover instead of grass that needs to be maintained throughout the warmer months, Lorentz added.
"One of the ideas from the America in Bloom judges who visited last year was to make that space a no mow zone," said Pittenger, who is also the co-ordinator of the Belpre in Bloom beautification program. "By putting down the river rock, we won't need to mow or take care of much in that spot."
The landscaping around the water feature will be done by Bryce Gearhart, a Boy Scout with Troop 13, who will use the project for his Eagle Scout recognition, Pittenger added.
This new fountain is one of a number of projects for the Belpre in Bloom program, which is in its third year, and Pittenger said is a continuation of a volunteer beautification project from last year.
"By fixing up this little area, we are expanding on the wonderful work the Belpre Rotary Club did last year," she said.
The smaller planting area next to the fountain was replanted last year and is being maintained by the civic group.
Pittenger said that by using tips from the America in Bloom judges, it helps the city when the awards are given for the national program at the end of the year.
"One of the things judges look for are if you used any of the previous years' judges' suggestions," she added.
The old fountain will be sealed and placed somewhere else in the city when repaired, Pittenger said. It is unknown where the fountain will be placed.
Other Belpre in Bloom projects for this year will be large planters throughout the city and expanded environmental efforts through a more available recycling program and gardening and composting classes for area residents
Belpre in Bloom is the local community volunteer effort that encourages beautification and cleanup projects of all kinds throughout the city, not just planting flowers. The local program is part of the umbrella program of America in Bloom.