Frost Park fountain repairs scheduled to begin Monday

Repairs to the fountain at Larry Frost Memorial Park in downtown Tacoma are scheduled to begin Monday, according to city officials.

The park, located at the corner of South Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue, is named after fallen Tacoma police officer Larry Frost, who was 29 years old when he was shot and killed on Sept. 9, 1977. In recent years, a group of local artists has gathered on Fridays at noon for friendly chalk art competitions. But its cascading fountain that stretches from Commerce Street to Pacific Avenue hasn’t worked for a long time.

That will begin to change next week, according to interim City Manager Rey Arellano. In his weekly report of Aug. 11 to Tacoma City Council, Arellano notes, “The Frost Park repair project will begin on Monday, August 15th with pressure washing followed by an acid wash. Once the pools have been cleaned, they will need to dry out before the epoxy/paints can be applied and sealed. Depending on the weather, completion is scheduled the week of August 22nd.”

In April, the Tacoma Daily Index reported City officials were considering whether to direct money toward repairing the fountain. According to city officials, the list of needed repairs is long: multiple leaks in the walls and floors of the pool; potential underground pipe damage; water pump repairs; pressure washing; and a waterproof sealant.

“Public Works received an updated estimate for repairs of about $40,000,” noted then Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson in his April 14 weekly report to City Council. “It is anticipated to be completed by the end of summer. The repairs to the Frost Park pool would require Streets and Grounds to use about $40,000. The 2011 maintenance and operation budget allocated $20,000 for the grounds section. This would eliminate their ability to purchase supplies needed to plant and maintain other City landscaped areas and parks.”

Still, during City Council’s April 5 study session, Anderson noted that if the city wanted to spend money on the repairs, $40,000 would be “found in the capital program in one of the general accounts and [staff] will transfer the money from there, capital money, over to the repair.”

The issue has worked its way through City Hall since February, when Councilmember David Boe asked for a report on how many of the city’s downtown fountains were operational. According to that report, which was shared during City Council’s March 5 committee of the whole meeting, three out of four of the city’s fountains were operational: Broadway Plaza (South 11th Street and Broadway); McCormick Park (South 10th and Fawcett Avenue); and Tollefson Plaza (South 17th Street and Pacific Avenue). A fourth fountain was not operational: Frost Park (South Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue). At the time, the estimated cost for repairs was $20,000.

On March 22, Councilmember Boe revisited the topic during City Council’s study session and stressed the importance of fixing the fountain.

“One is it’s our front door,” said Councilmember Boe. “I know people say, ‘Ninth Street, can we do something about this?’ We have this garbage can of a fountain — that’s what’s happening. It’s turning into a litter bin. What does that say about us? People use [the empty fountain] as sidewalk and benches, and it’s not designed for that.” He said he was concerned about liability issues related to people sitting in sections of the fountain that have drops of eight feet to concrete. “I believe we should be spending money securing that or putting hand rails in or guard rails in so we don’t have an accident. If we’re doing that on a fountain that’s not running, why don’t we take the money and fix the fountain? Because for me, I think we have a liability issue there because the fountain is off.”

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Repairs ahead for Frost Park fountain? (04/17/11) —

City of Tacoma’s Larry Frost Park Memorial Web site —

Frost Park Chalk-Off —