July 1, 2019 | A Plea to Prevent Pranks at the Fountain

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Friends and neighbors:

First, here is hoping that with the arrival of the Fourth of July Thursday, everyone enjoys a great, long holiday weekend. Our volunteers were out this past weekend (a weekend earlier than usual) to spruce up The Circle and Fountain Walk as they do each month, and things are looking great around this city landmark. If you’d like to join us on an upcoming first Saturday work day, the next should be on Aug. 3. You can sign up to get on our email list and get notices of volunteer opportunities here.

In less happy news, for the first time in many months, the Fountain at The Circle was the target of vandalism overnight on June 24. Someone(s) put detergent or some other foaming agent in the water, which required that the fountain be shut down for a few days while the soapy water was drained into the sewer system, the pumps and filters also drained and cleaned, and the fountain refilled with thousands of gallons of water.

As we have noted before, what may seem like a harmless prank has real costs in wasted water, wasted time by our volunteers and city maintenance workers, and potential damage to the fountain works. It is a thoughtless and selfish act that can do damage to a city landmark that is meant to beautify our community.

We have taken preventive measures that we instituted reluctantly but have definitely had a positive impact; the fountain is shut off and goes dark during the early morning hours each night, when it is most vulnerable to vandals who are unlikely to be seen. But it’s not foolproof, and we’d ask anyone who might witness anything suspect to alert us at fountainandwalk@gmail.com, or 510-982-9738.

Realistically, this is generally not the kind of crime that is going to result in police action, though Berkeley police do have a way to take incident reports online (here).

So please: Help us spread the word that our community disapproves of vandalism like this. Help us encourage respect for one of Berkeley’s most treasured landmarks and for the city staff and numerous neighborhood volunteers and donors who help maintain it.

Thanks very much.

— Board of Directors, Friends of the Fountain and Walk

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  • I’d submit it to the local papers such as Berkeleyside … It needs more circulation to make an impact of just how this kind of vandalism affects the operation of the fountain itself.

    • Friends of the Fountain and Walk says:

      Tam: Thanks for your comment. We have made this issue wider knowledge from time to time, especially after experiencing a rash of soapings. We find that sometimes trying to raise consciousness can also bring unwanted attention to this kind of prank, and worry about inspiring others who may not have thought of it before. So we try to focus on our community to keep their eyes open help spread the word. Your concern is much appreciated. Here’s a previous piece in Berkeleyside: https://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/06/07/rash-vandalism-hits-marin-circle-fountain

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