By Hilary Corrigan
Triplicate staff writer
The sound of water has surprised those walking and biking through Tsunami Landing over the past few days.
Crescent City crews repaired the fountain that has not pumped water for several years in the concrete base of a sculpture said to be the city's most valuable and important piece of art.
Artist Bruno Groth crafted the twisting metal fish and birds as a memorial to the region's 11 victims of the 1964 tsunami. The German-born sculptor who died in 1991 lived much of his life in Humboldt County. Humboldt State University hosts a collection of his work and his pieces adorn outside areas in New York City, Fresno and Eureka.
"It needs some tender love and care from now on," central services director John Cochrane said of Crescent City's sculpture.
Crews added a pump to recirculate a set level of city water through the fountain's spouts. Cochrane plans to adjust the jets with timers to avoid wasting workers' time tinkering with it.
This isn't the first attempt. About three years ago, city crews' efforts to fix the fountain ended after vandals repeatedly broke it. Cochrane pointed to limited time and a small maintenance staff his own six-member central service crew that manages equipment, a six-member public works crew and a five-member crew at the wastewater treatment plant.
"There's a hundred things a day that we need to do," he said, noting projects that have taken priority over the fountain. "That's aesthetics."
But on Tuesday, locals enjoyed the result of the work, strolling around the fountain and sitting on benches to watch it.
Debra Stover, owner of Del Norte Office Supply and president of the downtown Business Improvement District group that has pushed to fix up the spot, also liked the new look.
"It's a huge step in the right direction," said Stover, who wants to host events there.
Those could include a celebration for the Del Norte County Public Library's upcoming 100th anniversary, a July 4 party, a farmer's market, summer concerts, a tall ships festival party in May.
The city will add lights in the area, rebuild benches and repair a plaque on the fountain's side that lists the 1964 Tsunami victims' names. Last fall, City Council members had discussed moving the sculpture.
"For the time being, it's staying where it is and we'll see how things work out with the plaza," said city manager Eli Naffah. "We're responding to just trying to get the plaza in a way that B.I.D. and others can utilize it."