Architect of Cascade Fountain works to save it

LINCOLN, Neb. - Lincoln's Bicentennial Cascade Fountain has been at the corner of 27th St. and Capitol Parkway for 40 years. Now, it's fate rests in the hands of the public. The fountain's architect is making a plea to save it.

The fate of the Cascade Fountain rests in the hands of the public, but the architect is making a plea to save it. (Source: KOLN)

The fountain was built in 1978 to honor retired teachers across Nebraska.

"It has meaning, it has a story, it has a message," said Holly Group-Weber, a teacher who is working to save the fountain.

From the concept, to the design, to construction, Group-Weber's father, Larry Group, has had a hand in every part of the fountain's creation.

"This was just a low area, just turf," Group said. "So what we wanted to do was make a statement that is all year round. There weren't many what I call 'jewels' in the city at the time, and this was going to be a jewel."

But after 40 years, the city says the fountain has seen quite a bit of wear and tear.

"The mechanical system, the pipes are more than forty years old, and they're starting to age to be perfectly honest," said Lincoln Parks and Recreation director Lynn Johnson.

The city had an engineer look at the fountain and give some estimates on repair, and they aren't cheap.

"When this fountain was built, it cost about $155,000," Johnson said. "Now, just to renovate the mechanics of the fountain is about $900,000."

Now, the city is asking for your input. There are four potential plans for the fountain. Two would restore the fountain and two would replace it.

The first option is to simply restore the fountain's mechanical system.

The second would fix the mechanical issues and cut the reflecting pool in half, leaving room for shaded areas and picnic tables.

The third option would remove the fountain completely and replace it with a splash pad.

The fourth option would remove the fountain and replace it with a community greenhouse.

So far, Johnson says the survey has seen a tremendous response.

"At last check, 5,500 people had responded, so we are incredibly grateful and a bit overwhelmed by the response," Johnson said. "We knew that a lot of people would be passionate about it, but we didn't realize the massive impact it would have."

For the Group family, removing the fountain would be worst case scenario.

"It would be pretty much devastating," Group said. "There's so much history here."

But the family says they're glad to see the city putting the fountain's fate in the hands of the people.

"I just really want the public to realize that they have power here," Group-Weber said. "They get to vocalize, and hopefully we can get a true representation of what the community wants."

You can take the survey up until August 1. By this fall, the city hopes to have a better idea which plan people want to move forward with.

"Once we have that information and we present it to the city, we can kind of get the ball rolling for fundraising and hopefully in a year or two we can start construction," Johnson said.

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