June 24, 2017 | Fountain Update: Soaped Again, How You Can Help

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Friends and neighbors:

Our lovely and historic fountain was the target of vandalism once again overnight on June 23. Someone(s) once again put detergent or some other foaming agent in the water, which has once again required that it be shut down until the soapy water can be drained out and replaced. This seriously un-funny act of vandalism — which costs about $1,000 to remedy each time — has been repeated too often, several times in the past few months alone. So once again, we are forced to discuss serious ideas like installing security cameras or turning to other possible deterrents to prevent it from happening again.

In the meantime, we will work with the city to get the fountain operating again ASAP. As we’ve explained before, the tainted water has to be pumped out so it can be drained into the sewer system. The fountain was constructed to flow into the storm drain, which is no longer legal in CA. That problem will be remedied later this summer, when the city re-routes the fountain’s drainage directly into the sewer.

Also in  the meantime, we’d ask your help in maybe identifying those responsible, for this or any of the previous acts of vandalism. We suspect that the perpetrators are, as they are most often, young people: teenagers or young adults. (The previous instance, passers-by saw the young people playing in and around the fountain at the time of the incident, but did not see them adding the detergent. We have also learned that vandalizing the fountain is a standing entry on an annual list of “dares” shared among Berkeley High students.) It is possible that they recorded the incident on video or took images on their phones, and possibly posted them online. If you come across any images or video of people soaping the fountain, please let us know. You can email us at fountainandwalk@gmail.com, or call 510-982-9738.

If by chance you know of someone who has been involved in any of these incidents, we would appreciate it if you would ask them to knock it off, and to counsel others to do the same. It is a moment’s “fun” that has real and costly consequences. It is a thoughtless and selfish act that ruins, for an indeterminate time, a city landmark that is meant to beautify our community.

So please: Help us spread the word that our community disapproves of this supposedly harmless action and that vandalism like this is wrong. Please 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.

— Michael Gray, for the FOFW Board of Directors


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