The River Common fountain along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre will be turned on Fridays through Sundays, starting this weekend, a county official said.
The activation is possible because Luzerne County lawyers determined the fountain doesn’t fall under the same category as public swimming pools, which require water testing twice a day when they are operational, said county Operational Services Division Head Tanis Manseau.
The fountain’s lack of use has prompted complaints in recent years. Kingston resident Brian Shiner told county officials last week they should call it quits and fill it in with concrete if they’re not going to use the amenity more often.
Located at the Wyoming Valley Levee portal opening between the county courthouse and Market Street Bridge, the fountain was part of a $23 million riverfront park project that officially opened to the public in June 2009. The project also included a new river landing and 750-seat amphitheater.
However, county officials decided to turn on the fountain only for major special events because they said the county couldn’t afford the water testing and overtime for staffers to check the water pH levels on weeknights and weekends when most people would have free time to visit the fountain.
The county’s Recreational Facilities Advisory Board revived the topic in March, asking county officials to activate the rarely used fountain at least one day per week from Memorial Day to Labor Day, suggesting Fridays.
The county could cover or offset the expense with some of its $260,000 to $270,000 in annual recreational funding received from natural-gas drilling, the board said.
County officials agreed to the Friday night fountain activation in May, but Manseau said county Manager Robert Lawton asked the legal staff to review the legal requirements for water testing to determine if the hours of operation could be expanded to weekends.
The fountain will be operational from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Manseau said.