As Randy Keller loaded pieces of the Parkade Plaza Fountain into the back of his company truck, he reminisced about the days when the fountain was a downtown Spokane attraction.
Now, he has taken it upon himself to rename the fallen structure, “the fountain of youth,” or, more accurately for the longtime Spokane resident, the fountain of his youth.
But to surrounding businesses, the fountain had become nothing but an aging blemish. On Monday, Keller removed the 15-foot round bowl that rested off-center on top of a pool in the plaza courtyard.
Dru Hieber, president of Parkade Inc., said the fountain had become “a great nuisance and a great liability.”
“It’s been an eyesore for the public and an eyesore for downtown Spokane, so we decided collectively that we needed to do something with it,” Hieber said.
The pool and the steel fountain went dry two years ago when problems arose with the pipes and water system.
There were also issues with people swimming in the pool area, sometimes even bathing themselves.
Hieber said within one month the pool will also be removed. The area will be replaced with an “urban garden,” designed by Alderwood Landscaping. The garden will not contain any water structures, as of now. She said she is meeting with Alderwood soon to further discuss a plan for the area and added that this signifies the beginning of a renovation in the Parkade area.
Spokane architect Warren Heylman designed the fountain, along with the Parkade building, in 1967. Heylman could not be reached for comment Monday.
Keller worked from 5 a.m. until late in the afternoon tearing down the steel structure on his own for Rob’s Demolition.
He will return this morning to finish the job.
Keller said he remembered when the Parkade Plaza Fountain was a premier destination for people gathering downtown. Yet the fountain had been ignored, becoming merely something that protruded out into people’s walking space.
“I don’t know how many people on their cellphones ran into it,” Keller said.
Brett Hendren, owner of nearby restaurant Wild Dawgs, is looking forward to the fountain’s absence. He said it had “pretty much become nothing.”
He opened up Wild Dawgs nearly one year ago and said he frequently watched skateboarders using the dried-up pool, even with pointed railings lining the edges.
He is not sorry to see the fountain go.
“Hopefully they make it usable space,” Hendren said.