BATH — The City Council on Wednesday postponed a decision on whether to partially fund Library Park pond improvements until next June, the end of the current fiscal year.
Councilors Mari Eosco and Ruthe Pagurko sponsored an order that called for $10,000 to be appropriated from the council’s contingency account to contribute to fundraising for the improvements. The funds were to be donated to the Friends of the Zorach Fountain, a group named for a sculpture – “Spirit of the Sea,” crafted by William Zorach – that marked its 50th birthday last month.
Liz Messler, a member of the Friends board, noted in July that the group’s ongoing job “is the constant conservation of that piece of art. … It’s kind of ongoing maintenance.”
The sculpture was restored in 2005, but work on the pond around it also requires attention, Eosco said.
“We’ve got this amazing statue,” she said, “and the Friends of the Zorach Fountain would like to make sure that that pond is in great working condition.”
Eosco noted that a contribution from the City Council could serve as an incentive for other people to give to the project.
Councilor Bernard Wyman expressed support for the project, but he pointed out that $10,000 would consume 25 percent of the contingency fund. He noted that the council was only three months into the current fiscal year, and opposed spending the money at this time.
“If there were some way that we could … pay (the money) at a later date, I would be in favor of it,” Wyman said.
Councilor Andrew Winglass said the council had already spent a quarter of this year’s contigency funds.
Linda Wood, president of the Friends, said the group was in the initial phase of creating a capital campaign. The entire project could cost around $275,000 to $300,000, and would comprise work like landscaping around the pond, improving water quality and stone work, she said.
Wood called the fountain “a real asset to the city of Bath and the state of Maine.”
Councilor Kyle Rogers’s motion to table the matter until next June received unanimous council support.