Water woes plague Downtown Park, but it’s flowing again just up the road

Popular water features in a pair of city parks are headed in the opposite direction. One is bone dry, but the other is splish-splashing away.

There’s good news and bad news for fans of water features in city parks.

The bad news: It’s been about 10 months since the city’s new Downtown Park opened to the public at the intersection of Belardo Road and Museum Way, but its waterfall and the associated splash pad remain bone dry.

At issue: Less than a month after the $7.6 million Downtown Park opened in October 2021, the water in its waterfall stopped running. At the time, officials said they hoped the issue would be resolved within a month.

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  • That date came and went because the water feature needs significant work and much of its equipment is underground.
     
  • The work wasn’t done, however, because the contractor charged with completing the park — Fast-Track Construction Corporation (FTC) – appears to have simply abandoned the project.

  • In June, the city severed ties with FTC and stopped payment on checks. It’s seeking $2.3 million for liquidated damages and 15 stop-payment notices and fees.

What they’re saying: “Staff worked diligently and patiently with FTC to resolve its deficiencies on the project, including its inability to properly staff the project,” city staff wrote in a June report reviewed by the Palm Springs City Council. “… (B)ut ultimately FTC has failed to complete the project.”

Moving forward: FTC had surety bonds for the project, and the city is now working with the issuer of those bonds to make sure a new contractor is hired to finish the work at no additional cost to taxpayers.

  • “At this time, there is not a timeline as the Engineering Department is still working with the surety on those details,” a city spokesperson said Tuesday morning.
Water stopped flowing for months at this statue in Frances Stevens Park. On Wednesday it was seen working again.

The good news: In Frances Stevens Park off North Palm Canyon Drive, the “Rainmaker” fountain was seen splish-splashing again Wednesday afternoon. The 35-foot-tall structure featuring colorful straw-like arms bobbing up and down as they fill with water was offline for repairs and refurbishment for several months.

  • Its upkeep, currently estimated at $40,000 or more per year, has come under scrutiny before. In 2007 the work was nearly decommissioned but survived the budget ax.

  • Earlier this year, the city’s Public Arts Commission took up its cause, requesting the city spend money to not only make repairs but guarantee its upkeep for the next five years.

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