Riverfront Park fountain sits idle - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Riverfront Park fountain sits idle

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Albany-- The fountain was shut down by public health after they realized the county wasn't following all the required safety regulations. Now, the county's making changes, but doesn't expect to reopen the fountain until June at the earliest.

 You may have thought the fountain was just shut off for the winter. But it won't be turned on this spring because the planners didn't realized the fountain is a swimming pool of sorts and must follow certain safety guidelines set by the health department.

A month after it opened, public health officials drove past the park, noticed the fountain, and realized they hadn't been contacted by Albany Tomorrow to permit what they called a zero depth pool.

"We went through all the regular permitting process. I believe no one in that process realized that this would be a pool so the environmental health service were not included in the permitting process," said ATI CEO Tommy Chatmon.

 A new concept, but still a pool that must meet strict safety guidelines says Public Health Susan Reyher. "In all fairness to everybody involved, a zero depth pool is a relatively new concept."

"There are evaluated for safety and water quality so its a safe environment for people to have recreation."

Mainly for the presence of the potential deadly bacteria - Ecoli, found in human feces. 

"It's a very serious disease and certainly something that we have to watch out for," Reyher said. A zero tolerance pool must have restrooms within 300 feet, water fountains, signs warning of rules and dangers, and chlorine filters monitored daily.

Monday, county commissioners approved using about $200,000 in tax money to make the changes needed to meet the safety requirements.

 "In hindsight, we're building a permanent new facility that contains restrooms," said County Administrator Richard Crowdis.

A restroom facility that will also have an emergency phone, water fountains, an above ground water pumping system, and a mechanical chlorine monitoring system.

 "I know it's hard to be patient. But the fountain can't be opened back up until these restrooms can be completed," Crowdis said.

says at the earliest the restroom facility and other improvement won't be finished until June. So the fountain will sit dry during the first hot months of the year.

Why where no bathrooms built at the park in the first place? Albany Tomorrow hopes to renovate the Bridge House and use restrooms there, but they haven't got enough money to do that yet.

And, the county placed a mobile unit with restrooms in the park for a few weeks, but the planning and zoning department said it didn't meet regulations. So, they were left using portable toilets. Albany Tomorrow and county leaders said if they realized the fountain would be so popular they would have also made it larger and further from the road.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com