Friday, October 5, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 32


Cullen fountain to be full by spring

By Carolina Amengual
Daily Cougar Staff

Thanks to the floodwaters of Tropical Storm Allison, the University's largest fountain looks like a dry lake bed. Since the beginning of the
semester, the 500,000-gallon fountain at the Cullen Family Plaza, in the heart of campus, has been empty.

Rich R. Risma/The Daily Cougar

The fountain in the Cullen Family Plaza shows signs of disuse after lying empty for weeks. Officials say it should be fully operational again by

Rusty coins, autumn leaves and cigarette butts now lie on the black-coated floor of one of UH's most distinctive landmarks. The jets that shot
streams of water remain idle. The lights that used to sparkle on the water's surface at night remain unlit.

"I used to lie down on the grass and listen to the sound of water. Now I come and listen to the birds instead," marketing senior Carlos Rivera
said. "It's kind of sad. You just don't see as many students studying or sleeping near the fountain as before."

Some students described the plaza as "dead" and "lifeless" and said the campus has lost its main charm.

"The whole area looks murky. It's like incomplete," junior education major John-Sun Cha said.

Conrad Murphy, director of the building maintenance unit of the facilities management department, acknowledged the fountain's aesthetic
value, but he said it was impossible to make the necessary repairs without draining it.

Murphy said renovations became a must after tropical storm Allison caused $150,000 in damages to the fountain's mechanical system.

"All the underground computer-operated controls were lost. They were full of water," Murphy said.

Since the storm hit campus on June 8, all the department's efforts have been geared toward turning the buildings operational, Murphy said.
He added that now that the university is finally getting back on track, it is time to return the fountain back to normal.

To accomplish this makeover, department personnel will have to replace equipment such as pumps, valves and filters.

Building maintenance assistant manager Pat Sanchez said that it is better for the fountain to be full, even if the water is standing. Otherwise,
he said, the floor's inner coating starts drying out and peeling off.

But according to Sanchez, fixing the fountain will take time. He said some of the parts that need replacement are custom-made.

"We are not wasting our time. We are planning and doing research to see how we can prevent the coating from being spoiled," Sanchez said.

Murphy said he expects the fountain to be refilled within a month, after which it will take about another month to complete work on the
electrical systems.

"Our goal is to have it up and running around Christmas," Murphy said. "It will definitely be ready for midterm graduation. People like taking
pictures there."

English and psychology senior Aaron Jean said he will be glad to see the fountain working again.

"This fountain appears on most UH fliers and even on the UH Web site. It's just the premier fountain of this University," Jean said.

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