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Friendship Fountain: The Truth Beneath the Lies

If the city has its way, Friendship Fountain, one of Jacksonville’s most recognizable landmarks, is well on its way to being destroyed and replaced by a new interactive kiddie pool along with a downtown resembling Sesame Street.

Published September 11, 2006 in History      36 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

History

 Friendship Fountain was originally called the “Fountain of Friendship in Dallas  Thomas Park" when it  opened in 1965. Its original name coming from the city's parks and finance  commissioner. The park was renamed in 1968 after Thomas became involved in a  civic scandal. During its heyday, the 200-foot-wide fountain was billed as the  world’s largest and tallest, shooting as high as 120 feet, through 63 nozzles,  at a rate of 17,000 gallons of water per  minute while 252 multi-colored lights  created different patterns into the streams.
 
 
 
 Mayor’s Goals

For over a year, the Mayor’s group has been planning to move Kids Kampus to  Friendship Fountain, turning the Southbank into a Kids Zone, next door to MOSH.  Doing this would free up the current Kids Kampus site to be converted into “Flex  Space”, a term they use to describe land set aside to remain vacant so temporary  events, like the Super Bowl festivities, can be hosted on them.
 
 Why the Fountain must go

 For the mayor’s flex space plan to be implemented, Kids Kampus, which is  currently located next to Metropolitan Park, will be moved to the current  location of Friendship Fountain on the Southbank. However, Kids Kampus  takes up 10 acres, while the entire Southbank site is only seven. It is  impossible to create a competitive Kids Kampus on a smaller site, without  eliminating or incorporating the biggest obstacle at the new location...the  fountain itself.
 
 
 
 Why Mayor’s plan makes little sense

 Keep in mind, this is the same group who wanted to put hot dog carts on the Main  Street Bridge and replace the Landing with a merry-go-round. The Peyton  administration claims the $856,000 estimate to return Friendship Fountain to its  former glory is too expensive for the city. However, their plan to “refurbish”  the area is estimated to cost $4 million. This insane number also does not  include the $500,000 set aside to pay a consultant, or the $4.7 million the city  spent constructing Kids Kampus only five years ago.    

So to sum it up; $856,000 is  too much of a financial burden on the city to restore a local cultural landmark,  but $9.2 million should be invested carrying out the Mayor’s dream? Here is some  advice (for free), fire the consultant and take our $500,000 and apply it to the  restoration of the fountain and keep Kids Kampus in its place, because despite  it not being centrally located in the downtown, it is a well used attraction  that was just constructed, with taxpayer dollars, only five years ago.
 
 As for finding “flex space”, the massive city owned surface parking lots  surrounding Alltel will provide the city with all the “flex space” it can  handle, without destroying a five-year-old, $4.7 million investment.
 
 An Affordable Alternative Plan
 
 The "Big Idea’s" plan to convert the Friendship Fountain area into a kids zone  ignores previous downtown master plans, which were created with many hours of  public input and that call for a mix of cultural uses in that area, such as a larger maritime  museum or aquarium. By inviting existing establishments such as the Maritime Museum  -which wants to expand into a first class operation at the site; River  City Brewing - instead of buying them out of a 99 year lease; and MOSH, a  redevelopment plan for the park can be put together much faster and with less  taxpayer dollars. There is also plenty of land in the park to incorporate a tot  lot or two, as well as an interactive children’s fountain, without destroying a  local landmark.
 
 The best thing of all; by following older plans created with input from the public, the Southbank  could be converted into a local cultural center, with a restored  fountain serving as the centerpiece. This would create a vibrant recreational space that  appeals to all residents of all ages and complements the rest of downtown’s offerings.
 
 
 
 Timeline of Significant Events
 

 March 2001
 $4.7 million Kids Kampus opens
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/030701/met_5575862.html
 
 April 2005
 City discusses buying out River City Brewing’s lease and making Friendship Park  interactive like Kids Kampus
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/040605/met_18405701.shtml
 
 A Ron Littlepage editorial suggest moving Kids Kampus to Friendship Park
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/042105/opl_18532364.shtml
 
 August 2005
 Spokeswoman hints of possibly replacing the fountain
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021706/opl_landing.shtml
 
 February 2006
 Big Ideas Plan announced (includes a new kids zone at Friendship Park
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021706/opl_landing.shtml
 
 Littlepage praises Peyton for his downtown vision, which includes moving Kids  Kampus to Friendship Park
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021706/opl_landing.shtml
 
 March 2006
 City wants to move Kids Kampus to Friendship Fountain to create “flex space” for  staging “big events”. If executed as proposed, the Big Idea’s Kids Zone site  would replace Friendship Fountain with an interactive kids fountain. City has  already begun talks with fountain experts.
  http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2006/03/06/story7.html
 
 April 2006
 John Culbreth states the fountain will not be demolished
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/050606/ner_21783751.shtml
 
 City mentions replacing fountain with interactive children’s waterpark.  Estimates cost to be in the $3 million range
  http://www.news4jax.com/video/8613638/index.html
 
 Bob Johnson of Jaxfountain.com revels a city project note, regarding the city’s  intentions for Frienship Fountain
  http://www.metjax.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1833
 
 
 
 May 2006
 City receives 7 proposals for redesigning the fountain and surrounding park. At  this time officials state they don’t plan to touch the fountain itself. Peyton  sends emails to concerned residents mentioning that the fountain will be  “refurbished”, not demolished.
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/050606/ner_21783751.shtml
 
 August 2006
 
Wiles states the fountain can’t be repaired at a reasonable cost. HNTB  mentions the city wants to relocate Kids Kampus to Friendship Park. The rough  cost estimate is $4 million.
  http://www.news4jax.com/news/9771462/detail.html
 
 September 2006
 HNTB hired by the city for $500,000 to study fountain redesign. Wiles states  there’s no cost estimate on a new fountain
  http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/050606/ner_21783751.shtml
 
 
 








36 Comments

avonjax

September 12, 2006, 02:03:39 AM
Great information. Just the thought of the city destroying what I too consider a downtown landmark is infuriating. The mayor and his administration constantly scream "budget," yet based on these numbers they again want to waste taxpayers money on something that just needs some repair. What total hypocrisy? This information NEEDS to be shared with all of Jacksonville so they too can see what a foolish idea this is, and a very, very bad waste of money. I know I will be passing this information to everyone I know.

Greg

September 13, 2006, 03:18:22 AM
Please, Oh please, DO NOT destroy the beautiful friendship fountain.  It's one of the crown jewels and truly distinctive landmarks in downtown Jacksonville.

Sue Star

September 17, 2006, 12:47:21 PM
The beautiful fountain should be restored to its former glory, it's the one thing us as taxpayers would like to see our money spent on (Not $500,000 for a study and then say 800,000+ is too much to repair). Repair the fountain and forget the kid fountain idea. The kids park at Metro Park is far enough away from the water that the parents can enjoy being with their children, and Chaparones for Field Trips can properly watch them. The site at Friendship Park would be a nightmare for field trips, with a kids park so close to the St. Johns River. Children's safety should be foremost on everyone's mind.

keep the past alive

October 24, 2006, 01:19:24 AM
Hello again I just saw all this informatiom you have here and i'm simply outraged. Why the hell does this city spend so much money to build a part only to now want to relocate it. this is like the U.S.S Kennedy getting completely rebuilt at a cost of 3 mill and not she's to be decomissioned only like a year and a half after all that work was done. My question is why? What are you people in charge of our city thinking where does all these ideas get justified? You can't see spend oh 865,000 but you can see spending millions to destroy that which so many love. Well i'm outraged you people have no place in charge of anything if this is how you do such a small item I could only imagine how much of our tax dollars are getting used for god knows what. By the way what happens after you take the fountain then 5 years goes by then you decide to set your sites on the mosh next? There is absolutly no justified act or reasoning for this leave the city the way it is if you must go ahead with this plan build on that vacant lot over near the florida board of educations building theres a great piece of property just begging for use. Well i'm finished with my speech AND I ABSOLUTELY DON'T STAND OR AGREE WITH YOUR IDEA'S FOR OUR FOUNTAIN LEAVE IT ALONE AND REPAIR YES REPAIR IT.:(

keep the past alive

October 24, 2006, 01:27:14 AM
The city spends so much to build a "park" now to want to relocate it. This is like the U.S.S Kennedy getting renovated at a cost of 3 mill only "now" to get decomissioned.Where do all of these idea's get justified? you can't see spending oh 865,000 but the million rage is ok huh? These are the typo's so this way you people understand exactly what I was saying here today. Speak loud and often Keep the past alive.

keep the past alive

October 24, 2006, 01:28:39 AM
But the million "range" is ok huh?

M A Bryant

January 11, 2007, 02:10:33 PM
Let the children play in the fountains at the Landing (located directly across the river).  Oh, I forgot, the parents have no place to park their car.  My My Mayor Peyton, not much of a planner are you?

Lunican

December 11, 2007, 12:18:16 AM
So what is the status of this project. Is anything still in the works? There are so many projects well over a year old that have shown absolutely no signs of progress.

A city of a million people can't even get a simple fountain working? come on...

Ocklawaha

December 11, 2007, 11:41:28 AM
San Francisco wouldn't replace the Golden Gate Bridge
New York wouldn't update Miss Liberty in a Bikini
St. Louis wouldn't sell the silver gateway arch to Mickey D's.
Hollywood wouldn't remove the giant hillside sign that shouts it's name
Charleston would never level Fort Sumpter for a Condo Complex
Washington wouldn't remove the Lincoln memorial and replace it with a statue of Jefferson BY-GOD Davis. (though I might support that idea)

But Jacksonville, with a landmark, WORLD FAMOUS fountain, would destroy it for a 7-11 store!

Why can't we just repair the original, and surround it with interactive kiddie fountains built into the surrounding sidewalks? The best of both worlds never seem to occur to us... BTW, have we ever fixed the helment on the Spanish soldier in the parK? It was broken prior to 1980!

IF the day comes to rip it up, we should all surround it in mass, and dare them to cross the line in the rubble. First operator over our line is tossed into the river!
 


Ocklawaha

Charleston native

December 12, 2007, 12:31:13 PM
They better not rip up this fountain! This place was one of my first experiences to the city of Jacksonville and inspired my desire to move there. My family and I went there for the North Florida Sports Festival Swim Meet in '91, and when we walked from the Landing to the fountain, I truly realized how beautiful the city was. I didn't need to splash around in a pool to enjoy it...and I was only 16!

Please tell me nothing has happened to this great landmark.

jeh1980

December 21, 2007, 01:27:06 AM
San Francisco wouldn't replace the Golden Gate Bridge
New York wouldn't update Miss Liberty in a Bikini
St. Louis wouldn't sell the silver gateway arch to Mickey D's.
Hollywood wouldn't remove the giant hillside sign that shouts it's name
Charleston would never level Fort Sumpter for a Condo Complex
Washington wouldn't remove the Lincoln memorial and replace it with a statue of Jefferson BY-GOD Davis. (though I might support that idea)

But Jacksonville, with a landmark, WORLD FAMOUS fountain, would destroy it for a 7-11 store!

Why can't we just repair the original, and surround it with interactive kiddie fountains built into the surrounding sidewalks? The best of both worlds never seem to occur to us... BTW, have we ever fixed the helment on the Spanish soldier in the parK? It was broken prior to 1980!

IF the day comes to rip it up, we should all surround it in mass, and dare them to cross the line in the rubble. First operator over our line is tossed into the river!
 


Ocklawaha
We all don't have to worry. Friendship Fountain is here to stay :D. Its not going anywhere. So let's just all relax! The Mayor's "Big Idea" proposal is already forgotten by now. 8)

Charleston native

December 21, 2007, 09:32:04 AM
^ Yeah, I didn't realize that this topic was over a year old. I remember this plan being discussed at MetJax, and I was thankful that they canceled it. I need to take my wife and son there soon!

gatorback

December 26, 2007, 08:32:34 PM
I think it's the perfect location for street level parking...gosh, we don't have water to waste and we need to do something with all those parking meters we ordered last year from cousin Billy Bob's downtown Baptist Book Store and Parking Meter Research Center.

raheem942

December 27, 2007, 04:07:54 AM
leave it be my fountain aint bothering nobody and besides i like it

gatorback

December 27, 2007, 04:54:00 AM
alright then, but i'm telling ya it's prime parking police property if i've ever seen it...

Steve

April 22, 2008, 12:50:36 PM
So, how are the "redevelopment" plans coming.....

stephendare

April 22, 2008, 12:51:38 PM
not a word on this i think...maybe lake knows.

Ocklawaha

April 22, 2008, 01:17:51 PM
International Idea... Fix the fountain and make it even more fantastic, do the dancing water, video with music number on it... Give us music videos on a water screen, Shoot that sucker 200' high. Then surround the entire pond (sidewalk area) with tons of interactive play fountains...

Jacksonville Idea... Tear out those pumps and put a bait and tackle store down there, we can sell Jax and Gator Lager too. Use the old fountain as a bait farm, surround it with a genuine 1930's era tourist court, and rent small fishing boats with 4 HP motors along the old riverwalk. Gosh darn Gomer, we'd have the Worlds largest fish camp! If we tore down that stupid museum we'd even have room for a bowling alley!

Your right Stephendare, "NOT A CHIRP IN A CARLOAD" (former resident: Oliver Hardy)


Ocklawaha

stephendare

April 22, 2008, 01:20:16 PM
International Idea... Fix the fountain and make it even more fantastic, do the dancing water, video with music number on it... Give us music videos on a water screen, Shoot that sucker 200' high. Then surround the entire pond (sidewalk area) with tons of interactive play fountains...

Jacksonville Idea... Tear out those pumps and put a bait and tackle store down there, we can sell Jax and Gator Lager too. Use the old fountain as a bait farm, surround it with a genuine 1930's era tourist court, and rent small fishing boats with 4 HP motors along the old riverwalk. Gosh darn Gomer, we'd have the Worlds largest fish camp! If we tore down that stupid museum we'd even have room for a bowling alley!

Your right Stephendare, "NOT A CHIRP IN A CARLOAD" (former resident: Oliver Hardy)


Ocklawaha

Now, now, Ocklawaha, this isnt City thinking......

ErikCP

August 07, 2008, 10:34:02 AM
So are we certain the foutain is safe as of 8/7/08?

BTW this site is awsome, keep up the good work! I'm a Jax native and 3rd generation, and what is crazy is how our city's history is so ignored in the general population eye.

Everyone seems to have mentally written off downtown as a lost cause, its such a shame. I refuse to, and its great to see other like minded folks as well.

gatorback

August 07, 2008, 11:50:33 AM
Our city's history is what FBC says it is.

Doctor_K

August 07, 2008, 11:57:08 AM
Our city's history is what FBC says it is.
It's also lost to the masses because of the woefully inept reporting and researching capabilities of the local broadcast and print media, and their respective online outlets.  Apathy for just about everything amongst the larger general public - outside pro- and college-football, Monster Jam, and the Warped Tour - is just astounding.

Bob_Johnson

October 28, 2008, 12:25:16 PM
Another mention of "relocating" Kids Kampus in this Jax Daily Record article regarding future plans for Metro Park, dated Oct 24, 2008...

Quote
"evaluating the feasibility of expanding Metropolitan Park into the space occupied by Kids Kampus and possibly the WJCT property, both of which could be accommodated in another location off the riverfront."
http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=51089

I get real nervous whenever they mention relocating Kids Kampus based on the Administrations past intentions as noted here:
http://www.news4jax.com/news/9771462/detail.html

It is my personal belief that the Administation is just waiting for the outer ring pump to go belly up and then they will have all the ammunition they need to go ahead and tear out Friendship Fountain.

It is a sad situation but one that the current Administration seems H*** bent on pushing through...

-Bob
http://JaxFountain.com

thelakelander

October 28, 2008, 12:51:31 PM
Bob, its important that supporters of Friendship Fountain show up at this event.  This is a chance to be proactive and suggest that Kids Kampus stays put.  With the money recently invested in its construction, there's no reason it can't be a part of a better plan for that area.

jacksonvilleconfidential

October 28, 2008, 01:03:11 PM
I love Friendship Fountain. I grew up in St. Nicholas and spent just about every single summer day riding around it and the MOSH.

Save the fountain.

blizz01

October 28, 2008, 06:01:46 PM
CBS showed an aerial of the fountain during the Jags game Sunday.  Man, it looks REALLY crappy - Even if they never fix the main pump(s), they should paint the bottom or put some dye in there or something & one of those cheap retention pond pump/fountains.........SOMETHING!  The fountain near the stadium (by the TV studio) is more impressive these days........

jacksonvilleconfidential

October 28, 2008, 07:35:27 PM
I do admit Friendship Fountain is looking rather sad these days, I remember it in all its glory. People used to be around the fountain all the time. That is a great part of the SouthBank and something really needs to be done to restore it back it its old glory.

Keith-N-Jax

October 28, 2008, 07:50:45 PM
I saw that to when I watched the Jags game I had taped. I looked very very sad. :'(

gatorback

November 18, 2008, 09:33:26 AM
No money to make improvements.

tufsu1

November 18, 2008, 10:40:44 AM
Bob, its important that supporters of Friendship Fountain show up at this event.  This is a chance to be proactive and suggest that Kids Kampus stays put.  With the money recently invested in its construction, there's no reason it can't be a part of a better plan for that area.

I was a participant in the Jax Pride charette on Metropolitan Park on Saturday....Ocklawaha was there as well....many good ideas came out of the event.

Most people thought that the park needed to be more inviting for folks of all ages....while Kids Kampus is nice (when not dilapidated), it is still fenced off from other parts of the park for security....we were also told that the band shell/tent and WJCT were off-limits for discussion.

From what I understand, the City's design consultant (HDR) will take the info. garnered Saturday and develop a master plan/design for the park next year....and the Mayor would like to bid the work out for construction as soon as early 2010 (depending on funding).

Ethylene

June 02, 2009, 10:53:57 AM
This report just in today http://jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=52482:

And now according to M. Skipper: “The short-term work will be done to soften the area. There is a lot of cement and not much green space,” she said. “In no way would we contemplate getting rid of the fountain.”

Jason

June 02, 2009, 11:54:26 AM
I seem to remember a previous estimate to repair the foutain pumps in order to make it fully operational was around $300k.  IMO, fix the fountain first and then focus on the rest of the park.

Lunican

June 02, 2009, 01:23:02 PM
“In no way would we contemplate getting rid of the fountain” should probably read, “We are no longer planning to demolish the fountain.”

reednavy

June 02, 2009, 02:11:07 PM
Hopefully they dropped the above plan.

Karl_Pilkington

June 02, 2009, 02:39:19 PM
what exactly is a childerns? is it similar to a chirrens?

Steve

June 02, 2009, 02:43:31 PM
Wow - I've seen this image a thousand times, and never saw this.
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