Friendship Fountain needs fixing -- again

Problems with pipes, pumps force Jacksonville landmark to shut down for repairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville landmark Friendship Fountain is showing its age.

Since it was built in the 1960s, the city has sunk millions into the Southbank site. But once again, the water is not flowing. 

As for what's wrong this time, it's up in the air -- something that the water and jets at the fountain have not been doing for a while. 

Friendship Fountain is a centerpiece on the Riverwalk, but it hasn't been attracting many friends recently.

"I couldn't remember the last time it was working," Terrence Rembert said.

In 2011, the city spent more than $3 million to fix the fountain, adding new jet pumps and a nighttime synchronized light show.

A file photo from 2011 shows Friendship Fountain at night after the city spent millions to fix it.
A file photo from 2011 shows Friendship Fountain at night after the city spent millions to fix it.

But not long after the dazzle, the fountain fizzled again. 

News4Jax has watched the jets drop through the years. A month ago, the water was barely flowing. 

On Tuesday, no water was flowing. There was only water in the base of the fountain, which needs fixing -- again.

According to city officials, there is a problem with the pipes and pumps.  When the fountain is on full blast, it leaks. That could damage the sidewalk, the foundation -- even the fountain itself.   

So, as of Tuesday, it was shut down for repairs.    

Friendship Fountain is in Jacksonville City Councilwoman Lori Boyer's district. She wants to make sure the million dollars budgeted for the fountain are spent wisely. 

"Definitely understand what is not working now and needs to be repaired," Boyer said. "That includes pumps, pipes, and lighting and sound -- all the pieces of it."

Boyer has an ambitious plan to turn the Friendship Fountain into a destination point. News4Jax asked Mayor Lenny Curry about that Tuesday.

"I have not sat with council person Boyer yet and had the conversation," the mayor said. "But look, we are in the budget process right now, and I am sure that will come to me and we will evaluate."

Curry added that he had noticed the fountain is not working and that it is a concern.

Visitors said just restoring the fountain is what’s important.

"I miss having the fountain. It's a nice piece for us on the Riverwalk," Karen Padgham said. "I think that they should put this back to the way it was. Everyone seemed to like it."

For months, News4Jax has been reaching out to the parks department about Friendship Fountain, but has not received a response. 

News4Jax tried talking the parks department, as well as city engineers, on Tuesday, but has not heard back.

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