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Friendship Fountain loses sparkle for 4th of July

Repairs to landmark on Jacksonville's Southbank could come next year

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the city gets ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, much of the attention will be on downtown Jacksonville.

But some longtime city landmarks have lost their luster. The Jacksonville Landing is now closed and Friendship Fountain on the Southbank needs work. 

When Friendship Fountain opened in 1965, it was reported to be one of the tallest and largest in the country.

Now, time and lack of maintenance have brought it to the point where only one pump is working and it has lost its spectacular height and spray.

Randall Cook said it used to be a favorite attraction downtown. 

“I remember that it was glorious. It was beautiful. The people used to come here and sit and enjoy the city. And now, unfortunately, it’s kind of an embarrassment,”  Cook said. "You don’t want to bring people here anymore because it doesn’t work properly.”

In 2011, the city spent close to $3 million upgrading the fountain and adding the high-tech light fixtures.

It didn’t take long for that to break down. 

Last year, the city started talks of the redevelopment of the entire area. At that time, the mayor told News4Jax he was looking to spend about $1.5 million. 

Since then, there have been plans but no action. Some parts of the project have gone out to bid for developers, but the price tag is going up as well. One estimate is $4.1 million, and that could be presented in the mayor’s upcoming budget later this month.  

News4Jax requested to speak with city parks and public works officials about the current condition of the fountain and why it is in the state it's in now, but had not received a response as of Wednesday afternoon.  

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.