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Library fountain project gets underway

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The city Planning Department got the go-ahead Tuesday for work to begin on repairing the crumbling bowl-shaped stone fountains in front of Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library.

To keep the public out during construction, crews placed orange construction fencing in the front yard of the Washington Street landmark Tuesday morning and started doing work later in the day.

Contractor Raymond E. Kelley Inc., Seneca Falls, will be paid $253,400 to complete the work. The project will restore the fountains to what they were like when library benefactor Emma Flower Taylor had them installed in 1906, two years after the library opened.

It’s the first restoration project for the fountains in about a decade, city planner Andrew T. Nichols said. The concrete basins will be removed and replaced with new ones, and the coping stones foundation will be reset. The structures also are getting a new water line and spray mechanism.

“It’s going to be almost entirely rebuilt,” Mr. Nichols said.

In May, bids came in about $31,000 higher than budgeted.

Work includes restoring the cracked facade of the building, the marble front steps, fencing near the public sidewalk and one of the stone lions that greet library visitors. The project should be finished by fall.

Council members had hoped to have the project completed last year, but it had to be delayed after the city received no bids. This time, the Seneca Falls firm and three others submitted bids.

The city engineering office also said last year that it made sense to complete the facade and steps first and then have the fountains done, so they would not be damaged by crews in the process of the other work.

Visitors will be prohibited from walking on the lawn and sidewalk in front of the library until construction is finished. The building’s front entrance has been closed to the public for more than a year because of fears that the soffit could become loose and fall off.

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