Pink yarrow petals and bunches of petunias covered newly turned soil Friday as volunteers freshened up the landscaping around the Paso Robles’ Downtown City Park fountain.
The effort, headed by Paso Robles Main Street Association’s fountain committee, was born after local bed and breakfast owner Vicki Combs worried that fallen leaves and weeds gave a bad first impression to passersby.
“With the economy the way it is, the city is cutting back,” she said. “But it’s so nice for people to come here with their little shovel and gloves. And maybe they can’t give 100 bucks, but they can plant a flower or pull a weed.”
Her focus is on the area around the city’s water fountain across from the Carnegie Library in the park’s center. The spot was chosen because it has an existing irrigation system for flowers.
About 20 volunteers last week worked to give the fountain’s little iron fence and walkway lights a new coat of black paint, add a drip irrigation line and do some planting. A landscaper will also donate his time each month to maintain added foliage.
A handful of Keller Williams Realty agents were digging Friday as they combined their yearly community service effort with the fountain committee’s project.
“I think it’s really rewarding,” Realtor Lisa Miller said. “It will be exciting over the summer to see our handiwork bloom.”Next up on the committee’s list of goals is refurbishing the fountain.
The city turned the fountain off in 2009 to encourage water conservation and as a cost-cutting measure.
“I recently heard a lady from France say: ‘It’s such a pretty park. It’s too bad the fountain isn’t on,’ ” Combs said, adding that such comments are common with park-goers.
The water feature, constructed in the early 1990s, is slated to be demolished to make way for a plaza in the city’s new plan for growth, but that change could be decades away.
In the meantime, local volunteers would like to see the water back on for the weekends and for community events.
“It’s the center of town, and it looks like we’re neglecting it,” Combs said of the dry fountain bed.
Corporate sponsors, local donors and tourism representatives could help refurbish the fountain, Combs said. She plans to submit her proposal to the City Council this summer.
Last week, a council torn between saving money and making the park look nice encouraged her to firm up the proposal in terms of maintenance costs. City staff said it could cost about $200 per day in electricity, chemicals and maintenance to keep the fountain running — costs outside of the association’s first funding proposal.
The association is brainstorming ways to cut electricity and water costs, Combs said.
The goal is to cover all fountain operating costs without city money.
To donate to the effort, visit www.pasoroblesdowntown.org and click on the Adopt-A-Fountain Project icon.