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