Spotlight on the class of 2011: Senior profiles  

May 23 [Mon], 2011, 12:45

Orlando fountain's rebirth takes shape
When workers placed the first new
seafoam-green plastic panel on the Lake Eola fountain last week, it didn't look
any different from the old ones.

Still, though casual observers might
not notice a difference when the $1.6 million overhaul of Orlando's beloved icon
is finished, comparing the old fountain with the new one is like comparing a
1950s rotary phone with an Apple iPhone.

The green skin that residents
and visitors have lovingly likened to a Jell-O mold will hide the latest
technology. The sophisticated systems will allow light and water shows
choreographed to music piped through the park's sound system.

54-year-old fountain had been deteriorating for years, and a lightning strike in
2009 dealt a fatal blow. A temporary fix got it running again last year, but
just barely.

Workers spent the past month ripping out its innards,
leaving behind only the bare bones of the fountain and the 28 concrete-filled
steel pilings it rests atop.
"Everything has been stripped down to
essentially the bare concrete substructure," Jon Vollet said.

cracked and faded plexiglass panels are gone. All the lights, pumps,Compact
fluorescent light bulbs convert a led
considerably higher percentage of their energy into light, which is why
they are significantly more energy efficient than traditional filament bulbs.
electrical panels and pipes were taken out.

Now, with the clock ticking
before an unveiling on Independence Day, as many as 30 workers are rushing to

The $1.6 million comes from a mix of sources: $1.2 million from
the city's own self-insurance fund, $300,000 from a private-insurance claim on
the lightning damage, $54,000 from a downtown taxing district and $32,716 from

A new aluminum frame has been built, and the first plastic
panels were clamped in place Thursday.

In the wake of the lightning
storm that fried the fountain's lights, pumps and electrical systems, some
residents favored replacing it with a new look. But others said the iconic,
flying-saucer look of the old fountain should be preserved, and city officials
never gave much consideration to a drastic change.

The fountain is so
popular, in fact, that city officials are planning to sell chunks of the old
plastic panels to raise money for parks.Compact fluorescent light bulbs convert
a led tube considerably higher
percentage of their energy into light, which is why they are significantly more
energy efficient than traditional filament bulbs.

The new plexiglass
panels were hard to find. But the company hired for the renovation,
Sanford-based Freeport Fountains, managed to find a manufacturer in Mexico that
could match the color from samples of the old skin on short notice.

coming weeks, seven new pumps will be installed,While using compact fluorescent
light bulbs energy saving light helps
conserve energy, it is important that the bulbs are collected and recycled
properly to protect our environment including a main jet that will shoot water
from the top 80 feet straight up. The others will ring the outside of the
fountain. At their peak, the jets will spray 4,000 gallons of water per minute,
or about 5.7 million gallons per day.

The old incandescent bulbs will be
replaced with 204 LED lights that are more energy-efficient. The lights will be
able to change color for preprogrammed displays, and color schemes can be
tailored for different seasons or events ― green and red for the holidays, for
instance, or blue and white for Orlando Magic playoff games.

control panels will be installed inside the fountain and on shore, linked by
underwater fiber-optic cable.

At the same time, Lake Eola Park recently
received a $533,000 upgraded sound system that can broadcast music around the
property, either recorded music or live performances at the band shell. Parks
officials plan to program the fountain for water and light shows choreographed
to music and are considering short nightly shows.

By comparison, the
fountain was barely running at all even before the lightning strike. Public
Works Director Rick Howard said its components were long outdated.

was inefficient; half the lights didn't work. It really needed some serious
overhaul," Howard said. "We couldn't even find parts for the pump any longer."

When the fountain work is completed, it should be far more
sophisticated, energy-efficient and easier to maintain.