BANGOR, Maine — The city on Tuesday started knocking down Pickering Square’s brick and cement fountain after shutting off the water last summer due to people throwing trash and bathing in it.
City officials are calling the fountain’s removal a short-term safety improvement while they map out ways to overhaul Pickering Square, the downtown brick-covered area next to the city’s bus depot and parking garage.
“It wasn’t going to get used anymore,” Public Works Director Dana Wardwell said. “People could get hurt down there when they are climbing on it. We’re just getting rid of it.”
The city stopped running water through the fountain last summer due to people running through it, bathing in it and throwing trash in it — which meant workers had to spend more time fixing it, Wardwell said.
Officials ultimately decided to remove the fountain to provide better visibility in the square and to prevent people from climbing on it, Wardwell said.
“It’s a shame. It was a beautiful fountain,” said Rose Nuttall, a Levant resident who stops at the square to rest during her daily walks through the city. “It takes a few to spoil it for everybody.”
Public works crews were busy Tuesday morning crushing the brick and cement fountain that was installed at the city square in the late 1980s using a hydraulic hoe ram and loading the debris onto the back of a dump truck, according to the department’s foreman Dan McAllister.
Crews plan to replace the fountain with an elevated concrete platform with electrical outlets by the end of the week, providing extra space to hold summer concerts, movies and other events, Wardwell said.
City councilors vetted several proposals for the long-term overhaul of the square in December designed to provide a better connection between the downtown and the waterfront, improve the aesthetics and provide a space for public events — including one idea that would turn a portion of it into a parking lot. One proposal would also move the bus hub to a space at 170 Washington St.
The city council will likely discuss the options further in July, according to Tanya Emery, the city’s community and economic development director.