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LIL' BUDDY'S BLOG - Chicago Buckingham Fountain Restoration On Hold Due to "Tough Economy!"

THE CHICAGO IL REAL ESTATE MARKET, AND OTHER THINGS CHICAGO, FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A LITTLE WHITE DOG!

Good Evening, you dogs!  Taking a break from celebrating the latest Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory to write a brief post on one of the true Icons of Chicago, and the struggle to modernize it in tough economic times.

The Buckingham Fountain, in Grant Park at Congress Parkway in Downtown Chicago, has been a symbol of the City of Chicago, on everything from travel posters, to picture postcards, to the opening sequence from the Married . . . with Children TV Series. 

Built back in 1927, and dedicated by millionaire philanthropist Kate Buckingham to the memory of her brother, the iconic Chicago Landmark Fountain is operating daily, but in need of a much-delayed rehabilitation.  The total cost of the re-do - topping $25 Million.

So far, the Chicago Park District has spent roughly $13 Million restoring the plaza and landscaping surrounding the fountain.  However, as reported by Glenn Jeffers in the Chicago Tribune,  the renovation of the massive fountain itself, with its original pump and much original infrastructure, has been put on hold for the time being.  

Although the renovation project cost is to be split equally between public an private sources, up to $4 Million in State of IL Funds have been delayed, as the state has failed to commit financially to the modernization.  A bill that would award $30 Million to the Chicago Park District, to go toward renovating Buckingham Fountain and other parks across Chicago, has stalled in the IL State Capital of Springfield.

The work yet to be completed includes rebuilding the massive 280-foot-diameter outer basin, renovating the original pump house, and applying a protective treatment to the fountain's marble finishes and bronze sculptures.

Buckingham Fountain renovation money is also coming from non-profit The Parkways Foundation, which spearheads parks improvements.  They have raised roughly $2 Million of the $4 Million they pledged toward the project.  Another $8 Million is coming from the Kate Buckingham Endowment, the fund created by the fountain's original benefactor, over 80 years ago.

A portion of the admission fees for this Summer's Lollapalooza Music Fest will be earmarked for Fountain Renovation.  Parkways is also selling Premium Donor Plaques for each of the 100 benches situated on the plaza surrounding Buckingham Fountain, for $10,000 eachTours of the historic Pump House, to be offered each Friday through this fall, will raise $50 per ticket.

Fountain advocates predict shortfall funds will be raised, and work will be completed after the Buckingham Fountain closes its 2010 season in October.

All of this shows, you dogs, that in tough economic times, public spending on such park improvement projects - even those involving a local icon- take a back seat.   In more prosperous times, the IL Funding might have been received already, and the work now on hold, completed.

Enjoy your week!  If you get a chance . . . visit Buckingham Fountain!   All us Cool Dogs do!

YOUR ACE REPORTER ON FOUR PAWS,

BUDDY HOLLY MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2010 5:18 PM by Dean's Team
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