The Future of Stevenson and Cole: Enumclaw Fountain Update

Hello bottle-free devotees,

It's been a while since we've shared major updates on Spring to the Tap's Enumclaw Fountain Project. In short, the fountain has been trapped in a cycle of setbacks.

Here's a recap:

As early as 2014, Spring to the Tap identified the corner of Cole Street and Stevenson Avenue as a prime location to install a public drinking water fountain.

We identified this location with the help of the City of Enumclaw for the following reasons:
  • A mostly city-owned block near a city water line and water meter
  • Highly visible on a public street corner near the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce and Arts Alive! gallery (a high-traffic location that could supply water for public events like parades or street fairs)
Spring to the Tap reached their fundraising goal of $16,000 in 2015. After a public meeting at the library and planning the design with an artist, we planned to submit the project plans to the City Arts Commission which would later recommend the project to the City Council.

Designed to be cast in bronze, these were the initial concept sketches presented by Spring to the Tap in 2015.

Aftering a scale model of the fountain toured around town including an Arts Commission meeting, in January 2017 the Enumclaw City Council officially adopted a resolution, effectively paving the way for the fountain to be built and installed in spring 2017. In their resolution, they wrote the the fountain will be a "longstanding functional and artistic symbol of our well-being and our commitment to the health of our community, its people, and our environment."

The fountain was to be installed the following summer. Unfortunately, the project hit a major setback.

The local bronze sculptor who had agreed to craft this unique fountain faced significant hurdles to deliver on the project. In April 2017, Spring to the Tap parted ways with the bronze design.

After meeting with officials from the City of Enumclaw and the local contractor who had agreed donate time to install the fountain, we shifted plans. Instead of the custom bronze fountain, we would settle for a plain free-standing stainless steel fountain, like those found at airports or public parks, and add a commemorative log and plaques that would connect this project back to its Enumclaw roots.

A sketch of the corner of Stevenson and Cole with the proposed steel fountain and commemorative log in place.
However, the artist setback pushed installation date to summer 2018. Then we ran into another roadblock.

In March 2018, as we made agreements to install the new stainless steel fountain on the corner of Cole Street and Stevenson Avenue, a new project for that city block emerged.

The City began exploring the possibility of turning the parking lot between Cole St, Stevenson Ave, Railroad Ave, and Initial Ave into a commercial, residential, and community space. This block is currently home to a public bathroom, Arts Alive! gallery, the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce, and public parking. The new development was a fine idea, but it represented a huge project that would put the fountain on hold at least until a developer was chosen.

Read more: Enumclaw moves forward with downtown plaza proposal in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald

In early 2019, we reached a tentative agreement to include the fountain on the street corner as part of a local developer's plan to turn the block into a multi-story mixed use development. After delays, the City chose the plan that included our fountain. Finally, a success!

Yet only a few weeks later the new plan was ditched due to budget concerns and again the City struggled to decide on a future for that part of downtown.

According to the City, now a small "park" or public space is the plan for the land between the Chamber of Commerce and Stevenson Avenue. But no plans or timeline have been set.

It's no fault of the City for holding off on the drinking fountain project until they knew more about what would happen between Cole/Stevenson/Railroad/Initial. But extreme bureaucratic difficulties have extended the uncertainty of this area indefinitely, frustrating fully-funded efforts to provide downtown Enumclaw with a valuable community asset.

Spring to the Tap is currently searching for alternative locations including willing private partners along Cole St. to find a permanent home for a public drinking water fountain.

Enumclaw's spring-fed public drinking water is so pure it was once sought after by NestlĂ© for its bottled water brands. A useful public drinking fountain will showcase our stewardship of our most precious natural resource and our commitment to the well-being of the entire community.

Spring to the Tap is determined to build this fountain as part of its mission to ensure clean, accessible, and sustainable water for all.

If you know a business owner in downtown Enumclaw willing to discuss the potential for collaborating to bring a public drinking fountain to main street—leave us a comment or email us at bottlefreedevoteegmail.com

A Change in Plans

Regretfully, an unforeseen cost increase with the Enumclaw Fountain Project has forced Spring to the Tap’s board of directors to change plans with the project, moving away from the bronze sculpture design.

Spring to the Tap remains committed to the project's main goal of providing the city a drinking fountain and filling station. A commercially manufactured drinking fountain, still with bottle refilling capacity and pet drinking bowl, will not be as unique, but it will serve the core of the mission to ensure clean, accessible, and sustainable water for all. Additionally, the lesser cost of such a fountain will allow Spring to the Tap to continue to support the community's tap water; for example, by upgrading or repairing existing drinking fountains.

We will provide an update at the next stage of the process. Your support through this effort to date is appreciated.

Enumclaw City Council Approves New Public Drinking Fountain Sculpture

On Monday, the Enumclaw City Council unanimously approved a resolution accepting the Spring to the Tap Fountain Sculpture into the city's public art collection and approving it to be placed in downtown Enumclaw upon completion.

The drinking water fountain project, proposed and sponsored by Enumclaw nonprofit Spring to the Tap, went through an extended public comment phase led by nationally-renowned bronze sculptor Ross Brown. Beginning in January of 2015, Brown released sketches of the future fountain during an open presentation at the Enumclaw Public Library. After incorporating public input into the design process, Brown finished a 1/3 scale model of the fountain in August 2016. The model was showcased at Enumclaw's Art in the Garden event, the Arts Alive! Gallery, the Enumclaw Public Library, and the Enumclaw City Hall. At each venue, the public contributed comments that will help inform Brown as he designs and casts the final piece. The majority of the comments indicated a welcoming and enthusiastic response to the sculpture.

Three sketches proposed by artist Ross Brown last January.

In October, the Enumclaw Arts Commission moved to recommend the fountain sculpture project to the Enumclaw City Council. The recommendation, along with presentations by Brown and the Spring to the Tap board, was made in November.  Council members and the mayor commented positively about the fountain project. And finally, at their first meeting of 2017 this week, the council voted with unanimous approval.

The city council recognized Spring to the Tap's vision of the fountain as a "longstanding functional and artistic symbol of our well-being and our commitment to the health of our community, its people, and our environment." As both a creative sculpture and practical drinking fountain, the arts commission and city council welcomed an addition to its art collection that enhances "both aesthetics and community pride in Enumclaw as well as providing fresh drinking water as a public service."

A model of the Spring to the Tap fountain.

Ross Brown will now begin work on the full-size fountain. We will post the timeline for completion when we have more information. The fountain will be installed on the northeast quadrant of the intersection between Cole Street and Stevenson Avenue.

Spring to the Tap is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness, creating alternatives, and sustaining action in advocacy for tap water. Formed as a small group of Enumclaw citizens, Spring to the Tap envisions a future with clean, accessible, and sustainable water for all.