Council may keep Royal Palm Pointe fountain by cutting July 4th funding

By Debbie Carson, Online EditorVERO BEACH — The Vero Beach City Council discussed Wednesday cutting funding for next year’s Fourth of July fireworks show in order to keep the Royal Palm Pointe fountain flowing. The discussion came up during the first of three budget workshops the council has scheduled this week. Funding for the fireworks could come from donations and sponsorships by residents and corporations.The council talked about transferring about $15,000 that it would have spent on the fireworks display to the operation of the fountain. Residents last week protested the council’s proposed plans to pull the plug on the fountain to save money. Vice Mayor Tom White told the council that the fountain cost the city $575,000 to install and originally was intended to be aesthetic purposes only. However, over time, children began playing in the fountain and it became a recreation place.

City Manager Jim Gabbard added that as the fountain’s popularity rose, more and more people — many from outside the city — began to splash in the water, causing filtration and sanitation problems. The city has since had to install a better filtration system and use chemicals to combat E. coli.

He said that part of the reason the fountains had been on the proposed budgetary chopping block was due to potential problems with the electrical-storage room on site.

When the fountain was first installed, the city built an electrical room for the wiring that runs the fountain. But as the fountain became increasingly popular, the city needed a place to store chemicals, and the only immediately available option was the electrical room.  This is what now is causing wiring issues, Gabbard said.

 He said the city believes it can keep the fountain operational another year, but then will have to address the problems in the storage room, which he said could cost $60,000 to $70,000 to fix.

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