HUNTINGTON — After several months of unexpected delays, the fountain in Ritter Park has been reopened with newer capabilities.

The fountain can now be lit up with different colors and the water jet can be timed with various patterns, said Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District (GHPRD) Executive Director Kevin Brady.

The fountain closed for renovations at the beginning of March and was expected to be reopened by the end of May. However, after GHPRD crews began getting the fountain ready for the renovation, they realized it would need much more work than previously thought.

Brady said the bottom of the fountain was made of fiberglass that had developed a hole. Brady said it’s a surprise the old water jet was working at all. Crews with the Huntington Water Quality Board ran a camera through the fountain to determine where the hole originated.

Patching the hole and giving the fountain a new concrete base cost approximately $20,000 extra than the original $134,467 that was budgeted for the project, he said.

After that setback, Brady said there were more complications with contractors hired to complete the project. Cascade Fountains, in conjunction with the Fountain People, designed and built a completely new operating system for the fountain, which was constructed in 1999.

Brady said there initially was some confusion in communication between the contractors, who were fabricating parts in-house. Once those communication problems were fixed, the new operating system was delivered and installed.

The fountain officially came back online this weekend, just in time for high school students to take homecoming pictures there, Brady said. The fountain now has several new options, including light-up capabilities.

Brady said in the past the park district received requests to turn the fountain purple for pancreatic cancer awareness or pink for breast cancer awareness. Right now, they are testing it by setting the color to green in honor of Marshall University.

The fountain also has a couple of settings to control water jets that can spray out different patterns. It’s not quite like Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, but the Ritter Park fountain’s jets can still do several programmable maneuvers, Brady said.

Brady said park guests may witness some of these programs while GHPRD staff experiment with the settings over the next few weeks.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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