TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A decorative fountain in Ybor City, the size of a football field, that’s been a drain on Tampa taxpayers for years is up and running again.
“It looks great at night. We’re going to do what we can to keep it maintained and operated,” said Tampa Water Director Chuck Weber.
Weber shut down the fountain, located between two I-4 overpasses at the 22nd Street ramps, late last year after maintenance costs rose to $5000 a month.
He considered turning the fountain into a parking lot or filling it with planters, but those options weren’t viable.
“Those things just didn’t pan out,” Weber said.
The city is hamstrung by a deal it made with the Florida DOT a decade ago when the DOT was working on I-4 in that area. The state agreed to spend $1.3 million for the fountain, but the city had to accept responsibility for running it.
“We’re contracted. We’re obligated in perpetuity to run that fountain,” Weber said.
The cost of cleaning out litter and debris started escalating, so the city turned off the water, but that accelerated decay in the fountain and prompted the city to turn it back on last month.
“It made more sense to go ahead and put it back online and find out if we can find a cheaper way of maintaining it,” Weber said.
That cheaper way now amounts to city crews maintaining the pumps, clearing debris and looking after the water chemistry.
Weber hopes the cost to taxpayers will settle down to about $3000 or $3500 a month. That’s still costly for a fountain tucked away in an obscure corner of Ybor City that hardly anyone gets to see or enjoy, but Weber insists choices are limited and he’s determined to make the best of it.
“We think with our own crews we can maintain it less expensively, so we’re moving in that direction,” Weber said.
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