Burkesville contractor wins bid for Fountain Square beautification
Fiscal Court awards Hil-Don Inc. $760,665 contract
by Bill Mardis Commonwealth Journal
The next to last step has been taken before work can begin on the Fountain Square Beautification Project.
Pulaski Fiscal Court, during a special meeting Wednesday, approved Hil-Don Inc., Burkes-ville, as general contractor for the $1 million renovation of the historic downtown centerpiece. Expected approval by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will be the go-ahead signal for construction to begin.
The Burkesville contractor, one of four bidders during a second round of bidding, submitted a low proposal of $760,665.39. The initial bidding process in late August ended up with two bids, both more than $300,000 too high. Pulaski County has $1 million for the project –– an $800,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant and a $200,000 in-kind contribution from the county.
Hil-Don was not among the initial bidders. However, Don Davis, president of the company, and his employees are familiar with downtown Somerset and Fountain Square, having just completed the streetscape project on North Main Street.
Tiffany Bourne, community development director for Pulaski County, said she hopes construction can begin in December and be completed ahead of the first Somernites Cruise the fourth weekend in April. She said April 1 is the projected date for completion.
“(Construction) is the reason the community Christmas tree won’t be on the square this year,” Bourne said. She noted, for this year only, the Christmas tree will be on the plaza at the Pulaski Court of Justice.
A little more than $100,000 was trimmed from the Fountain Square project to bring it in line with available funds. The changes are subtle and “the public won’t notice the difference,” Bourne said.
Three crosswalks leading to the square will be marked with lines instead of pavers and some unnecessary lighting and engravings will be eliminated. Bourne said.
“We’re not eliminating the bricks,” Bourne emphasized. She was referring to the engraved bricks that are being sold by fiscal court for $250 each to help pay for the project. About 100 bricks have been sold “and we hope to sell another 100,” said Bourne.
The bid advertisement says the scope of construction includes demolition of the existing fountain, side-walks, walls, site amenities and electrical components. It includes installation of a new fountain, sidewalk pavement with pavers (eliminated), light poles and fixtures, irrigation, landscaping, retaining walls and seat walls.
Design of the new fountain has not changed.
A powerful and impressive water display will jut from a small pool and falling water will cascade off the smaller pool into a larger pool,” Bourne said. Base lighting will illuminate the gushing waterfall.
“It is going to be the most significant fountain built in Kentucky during the last five years,” said Russell Sitter, designer of the fountain.
Sitter is an expert on fountain design. He designed the fountain at the Court of Justice building in Lexington and also a spectacular fountain in Cincinnati, among others.
Also, the fountain’s antiquated electrical wiring will be upgraded. The existing fountain is hooked to the courthouse electrical system and operation of the fountain often disrupts computers in the various offices. Bourne has indicated the design of Fountain Square will complement the courtyard at Pulaski Court of Justice.
Other notable changes in the renovated Fountain Square area will be relocation of the statue of John Sherman Cooper. The statue of Somerset’s native son, now facing west, will look south toward First and Farmers National Bank.
The public square has been a gathering place since shortly after Somerset was founded. The fountain, operating seasonally, has been gushing for 104 years.
A committee of county justices and town commissioners was formed in 1893 to plan for a fountain on the public square.
Some 15 years later -- in 1908 -- this was accomplished when a group called the Commercial Club raised $1,250 from citizens and businesses. This, along with appropriations from Pulaski Fiscal Court and Somerset Town Council, was used to pay for developing the square and installing a fountain.