Kids laugh as they run through a torrent of water from a large fountain, doing their best to cool off from the hot and humid temperatures that are typical of summer days.
That image, seen on most days outside Fayette Circuit Court on North Limestone, is the opposite of another fountain, just a few yards away in front of the adjacent courthouse.
The geyser-like fountain in front of Fayette District Court, which traditionally attracted some of the largest crowds of children, has been shut off for a year and half. And it will remain off for at least another year, said Jamshid Baradaran, director of the division of facilities and fleet management.
Baradaran said the entire fountain, including the lighting, pumps and the electrical system, need to be inspected and brought up to code before the fountain becomes operational again. The electrical system affects the entire plaza.
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The 12-year-old system — which had been a big hit during a variety of events, such as the Latino festival and the Lexington Pride Festival — has worn down because of frequent use.
"We just don't have the capacity out there to hold those types of festivals now," said Mike Wiley, project manager of Meridian Management.
Safety also was a factor in the decision to shut down the fountain. Baradaran said he wants to make sure there is clear separation between the running water and the electrical system.
Baradaran said a total revamp of the fountain will ensure that it is safe and it will last well into the future.
It's not clear when the fountain will get fixed.
Other projects throughout the city, such as HVAC and roof maintenance on other buildings, have been higher priorities.
"You're not going to get the level of funding that you absolutely need," Baradaran said. "So, therefore, you have to sit down and evaluate each project."
Still, the city has set aside $50,000 to repair the fountain. Baradaran said the city will use the money to hire a consultant to look at the fountain's electrical and plumbing systems, and assess the repairs and their associated costs. He hopes that process will be completed by December. After that, the city will decide on what action to take by phases. Baradaran hopes the fountain will be operational by next year, but said it all depends on what the consultant says they need to fix.
"It's all related to the money," Baradaran said. He added that they just want to do a thorough job.
"We're not approaching this as just putting a patch on it and kicking a can down the road," Baradaran said. "That's not how we do things."