'It's about us': Plan could bring sculpture to Morris Street pocket park

Charles Oliver/Daily Citizen-News

Sculptor Chris Beck and Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful Executive Director Amy Hartline look over a long-closed fountain on Morris Street and discuss ways to beautify the site.

Members of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, a citizens group aimed at improving the appearance of the area, say they want the city of Dalton to keep the fountain at a small park near the intersection of Morris Street and Veterans Drive.

"Even though the fountain doesn't work, hasn't worked in many years, there's a lot of history there," said Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful Executive Director Amy Hartline. "There's a plaza near here called Fountain Plaza. We've talked to people who remember coming here when it was still working."

The group proposed using the fountain itself as a planter for flowers and installing a sculpture at the site, a suggestion that was recently endorsed by the city's Public Works Committee, which includes City Council members Tyree Goodlett and Annalee Harlan.

The park was dedicated in 1999 and the fountain operated for several years. But Public Works Director Andrew Parker said it was taken out of service around 2007 for several reasons. First, the area was in the midst of an extended drought, and officials said they could not justify continuing to use several thousands of gallons of water in the fountain. Parker said the fountain was also "routinely" vandalized by people putting soap or detergent in the water. He also said there was an ongoing cost for labor and materials to test the water and make sure that it met public health standards.

"Since that time, many of the fountain components are beyond repair and would require extensive work from a specialty contractor to restore to service," Parker said.

He said the department had already begun thinking about removing the fountain and putting additional landscaping in the park where the fountain stands.

In addition to planting flowers in the fountain, the Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful plan calls for a new piece of sculpture over the fountain that will be made by Dalton sculptor Chris Beck.

"We wanted to work with Chris because he works with recycled materials, and shares the same goals of sustainability and creating a greener and cleaner place to live that we do," said Hartline.

Beck said the concept for the sculpture, developed with members of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, is a bridge over the fountain.

"The idea is that we are bridging gaps," he said. "I envision people on that bridge helping each other out, kids playing with each other. People of all different races and ethnicities helping each other and working together. It's about unity. It's about community. It's about us."

The city would fund the landscaping and the planting materials in the fountain. Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful would fund the sculpture and its upkeep.

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