Friday fountain ceremony a go
There will be a birthday party thrown by Baldwin City for Baker University Friday night no matter what the state of progress is on the $1.8 million Downtown Streetscape Project.
A group of community members donated money for the Baker fountain, which will be in front of the chamber of commerce office at Eighth and High streets. On Friday, work crews erected the fountain, which had been built elsewhere, onto the base that had been poured when the streetscape project first began.
The Bryant and Bryant Construction crews working on the downtown project have stepped up work in the area, but it's doubtful it will be completed by Friday. Organizers have planned the birthday party to begin at 5:45 p.m. for months and are holding to it.
"Does this have to happen Friday?" Councilmember Ken Wagner asked organizer Rita Madl at Monday's city council meeting when she made the request to close Eighth Street between High and Grove streets.
"Yes, it has to happen," said Madl, adding that the 150th anniversary celebration planning has been going on for quite sometime and they had to keep this date.
"That's a shame," said Wagner.
Mayor Gary Walbridge brought up liability concerns for the city with the open construction site around the fountain. Madl said the area would be taped off and no one would be allowed in. The celebration, complete with birthday cake, ice cream and a rendition of "Happy Birthday," will take place on the street near the fountain.
Walbridge was also concerned that the item hadn't been placed on the agenda and was only brought up by Madl after another presentation. Madl apologized for not making notification.
"I'm disappointed this didn't get on the agenda," said Walbridge. "That's when liability happens. It takes planning."
"What more liability do we have tonight than Friday with the construction site being open?" asked Wagner.
Wagner then said he didn't think a vote was necessary on the request and that City Administrator Jeff Dingman should handle it. The rest of the council agreed and Dingman said they'd review where the project was by Thursday and determine what steps needed to take place.
"Can we have a birthday party on the street, please?" asked Madl.
The council gave its approval without a vote.
In addition to cake and ice cream, punch will also be served. Invitations to the event were sent out to many people, but the entire community is welcome. It starts at 5:45 p.m. and the presentation, including the plaques containing the names of the people who donated more than $500 each to the project, will be made at 6 p.m.
It is one of many anniversary celebrations planned throughout the year for Baker, which is pleased with the community's gift.
""Baker University has valued its relationship with the Baldwin City community for 150 years," said Steve Rottinghaus, Baker spokesman. "The downtown fountain is a fitting tribute, especially with so many generous families supporting the project."
Although the fountain itself has been installed, it will not be functioning. Water has not been connected to it yet. It's also doubtful that the pillars surrounding it, where the plaques with the names will be, will be up by Friday. Lighting to the fountain area has also not been installed yet.
Madl told the council that the event was planned in conjunction with other happenings in town Friday night. The Baldwin Community Arts Council's annual Cuppa Java Art Walk starts at 6:30 p.m. downtown and the Baldwin High School football team plays host to Ottawa at 7 p.m.
"We're hoping everyone will come out for the party and then go to the football game," said Madl.