By Claire Byun
Lafon Fountain waters will hopefully flow again next year, thanks to a neighborhood organization’s fundraising efforts.
The Coliseum Square Association has raised more than $68,000 toward their endowment to repair and refresh major parks and fountains around the Lower Garden District. At least $25,000 of that will be matched by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, but board members are hoping for a little bit more.
The foundation is mulling over matching more of the CSA’s endowment, but even without the extra cash bump there’ll be more than $93,000 for repairs and landscaping on Lafon Fountain.
“We’ve met our goal,” said Karon Reese, CSA vice president. “We’ve done a great job fundraising this year, and it’s been amazing.”
The Lafon Fountain sits in Coliseum Square directly across from the International School of Louisiana, and is named after Creole architect and engineer Bartélemy Lafon, who designed plans for the Lower Garden District. The fountain was built in 1976 but the city ceased operating it to save money in the 1980s, the Coliseum Square Association has said in fundraising materials.
All board members must now sign a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the city to jumpstart repairs. Each member must also sign a non-felonious statements before construction bids go out.
The CSA’s next step is to open bidding for construction and choose a contractor, with repairs starting early next year, said CSA President Julie Simpson. The neighborhood organization has complete oversight on construction, and future maintenance plans are in the works.
Once the board signs the agreement, officials will start looking to a maintenance contract with the city. Jim McAlister, board member, said that now the money to fix up the parks is set, it’s time to look into maintaining those fixtures for the foreseeable future.
“We’re doing a great job of getting all the fountains going, but that doesn’t stop the city from plugging the fountains if they run out of money,” he said.
Simpson said the CSA is already planning a maintenance contract, but the CEA has to be signed before anything else happens. CSA members have been in contact with city officials regarding the fountain’s next steps, she added, but there’s still a few pieces of information needed from the city.
There’s already about $25,000 set aside for park and fountain maintenance, Simpson said. Most of those funds were raised last year and were kept separate from endowment money.
As for extra cash from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, board members are waiting to hear if they’re eligible for an increased endowment. CSA had to raise at least $50,000 for a GNOF match of $25,000, but foundation officials “indicated they’d be open to matching more,” Reese said.
CSA board members must have an answer from the foundation by next month, since there’s no meeting in December, Simpson said.
Fountain waters should be up and running by next summer, Simpson said.