Many consider it the centerpiece of Bronson Park in Kalamazoo: it’s called ‘Fountain of the Pioneers” built in the late 1930's by Alfonso Iannelli. Preservationists have asked for it to be on the National Historic Registry. The Kalamazoo Parks Department is working to make sure it's around for years to come.
The fountain is nearly 72 years old and starting to show signs of deterioration. People attended a forum to discuss what to do about the fountain and it's inside parts, like the electronics and pumping station.
Five years ago, there was controversy over the depiction of the fountain. Some say it appears to be a Native American kneeling before a settler. "What it represents is the decimation of the Native American community in our own community,” Jennifer Shoub told FOX 17 News. “I have serious concerns over how we can spend a lot of money restoring that vision."
Others interpret it as welcoming the settlers. “The European settler is coming on a ship to the new world, and being greeted by a Native American,” Barbara Brose described. “The European man is holding a staff, and the Indian is not kneeling, his feet aren't in back."
One man suggested replacing the fountain altogether. "Why can't we be bolder, why can’t we be brave and creative and create something new?” Dustin Holder asked the Parks Department representatives. “We're a community that's changing."
This is just the first step in the process. It could be months before the workers at the parks department decide what steps to take, but they hope to have the restoration complete by 2015, the Fountain's 75th anniversary.