Watchdog: Vandals wreck drinking fountains at Inner Harbor

  • Mount Vernon resident Kristin Lohr, 24, tries to get water from a broken fountain along the Inner Harbor promenade.
Mount Vernon resident Kristin Lohr, 24, tries to get water from… (Gabe Dinsmoor, Baltimore…)
July 30, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

The problem: Drinking fountains near Rash Field on the Inner Harbor promenade weren't working.

The back story: Everyone expects the street furniture along Baltimore's avenues and byways to experience wear and tear now and then. But it's troubling when some damage appears to be caused deliberately.

That seems to be the case with this week's Watchdog.

Marcus Mencarini regularly runs along the Harbor Promenade from his Fells Point home. He said he has noticed that as long ago as last summer one of the two drinking fountains near Rash Field, between the Rusty Scupper restaurant and the Maryland Science Center, was not working.

Then, during a run July 17, Mencarini passed the fountain closer to the restaurant and it was leaking. The next Sunday it was dry.

For tourists and residents alike, "it's a good place to have water," said Mencarini, who sometimes runs along the harbor as far as Tide Point.

He wrote an email to Watchdog about the fountains after he said he checked the 311 system online but couldn't find an appropriate category for this request.

"It is a shame that in the center area of our attractions there is not running water," he wrote.

Watchdog knew whom to call, after solving a similar problem in 2008. The Transportation Department maintains the Inner Harbor infrastructure, including the walkways and bulkheads — pretty much everything except the landscaping.

In this case, the fountain nearer to the science center had a broken valve and the water had to be shut off until it could be replaced, said Transportation Department spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes.

PVC pipe on the other fountain had been broken the same way for the second time in two months, and staff members suspect that someone rocked the fountain, causing the ruptures, Barnes said.

Both fountains were to be repaired Thursday, she said.

Watchdog tested them Friday and found that the fountain by the Rusty Scupper worked but the one closer to the Science Center did not.

"We are working on that second one," Barnes said Friday. She said crews might have needed to order a part.

Meanwhile, thirsty fitness enthusiasts and others do not have to travel far. They can fill their water bottles at the Baltimore Visitor Center or drink from the outdoor fountain on the harbor side of the Light Street Pavilion.

Who can fix this: Richard Hooper, chief of transportation maintenance. 410-396-1686. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

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