ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A new sculpture is being proposed at Mark Twain Riverfront Park after a previous design for an artistic fountain was scrapped. The site at the corner of North Main and Water Street used to be a fountain. It was then supposed to be turned into a splash pad. Mayor Dan Mandell told 18 News the new design by a different artist, Derek L. Chalfant, is inspired by Mark Twain’s Quarry Farm, where the author summered for more than 20 years and wrote some of his most famous works.
18 News spoke with City Manager Collins on June 29th when the initial design for the artistic fountain was unveiled.
“Originally the park was going to have a splash pad. We will not proceed with a splash pad,” said Mr. Collins. “We do have an art piece that will be put down there that will be a fountain, but not a fountain that people will be able to get in and swim in.”
“Why was a decision made to go in a different direction?”
“Our understanding is the company that was going to install the splash pad was not able to get in all of the equipment. Once the equipment did come in, they were not able to do the installation. So that’s how we’re going to utilize the parts for the splash pad at Brand Park.”
“What was the nature of the problem if I may ask, why were they not able to do it?” Dubina asked.
“Everything was supposed to be done last year,” said Collins. “Everything kept being put on hold because parts were not able to be delivered in an appropriate time. So, after the splash pad took a while for the installation, a new concept was redesigned to do a fountain there that would not be a splash pad.”
The splash pad planned for Brand Park would replace the historic Brand Park pool. Mayor Mandell says the pool is beyond repair and the goal is to demolish it before the end of the year.
City Manager Collins says the artistic fountain also had to be scrapped after the artist pulled out of the project. It’s unclear why.
The City’s Public Art Commission has now approved a new sculpture design by artist Derek L. Chalfant. The City set aside up to $25,000 for the project from funds awarded by the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Monday night, a vote to approve the project failed, even though the vote was 3 ayes and 2 nays. The vote needed a simple majority, at least 4 out of 7, to advance. Mayor Dan Mandell and First District Councilman Nick Grasso were absent. The Mayor told 18 News he was sick. Mr. Grasso said he had a work obligation out of town.
4th District Councilman Mark Franchi said he voted no because he didn’t like the design. “It just doesn’t look like Quarry Farm. It doesn’t look like Elmira.” 6th District Councilwoman Nanette Moss also voted no. She declined to tell us why.
Mayor Mandell told 18 News he will put the design up for another vote at the next City Council meeting on September 25th when everybody is present. The Mayor says he is in favor of the new sculpture, and he is confident the vote will pass.