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Congress Park fountain being cleaned, repaired after vandalism

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
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— A popular fountain in Congress Park has been temporarily removed for maintenance after it sustained minor damage almost two weeks ago, apparently from vandals.

A Saratoga Springs Department of Public Works employee reported to police on the morning of June 14 that the fountain in the rose garden next to the Canfield Casino had been vandalized, said city police spokesman Lt. John Catone.

The three-tier cast iron fountain, which is constructed in pieces so it can be taken apart, was toppled sometime before 6:30 a.m. that day.

“Kind of like a Lego set, it slides together in pieces,” Catone said.

Despite the dramatic look of the base of the fountain sitting in the park now without its top, the damage to the fountain was minimal, he said. The DPW had already planned to take the fountain apart and clear its water pipes, which get clogged with minerals over time, Catone said, so workers decided to go ahead and do that after the vandalism happened.

The top of the fountain is expected to be returned to its base soon, he said.

Because the fountain is so old, officials aren’t sure whether the scars they see on it now are old or new. “The minimal amount of damage that was on it might have been there before,” Catone said.

The fountain is painted red and white. Water flows from a spout at the top into the first, smallest bowl and cascades down to the second bowl and then the third.

Police took a report on the vandalism and will look into it, Catone said. Surveillance cameras in the park were working that night, but officials do not have images of the vandals yet, he said.

“When they were trying to retrieve some of the data off the digital server, they were having some problems,” he said.

Not knowing what the trouble was, the DPW sent the hard drive back to the manufacturer, which is expected to retrieve the images so police can see them, Catone said.

“Like any computerized system, you can run into some glitches,” he said.

The fountain has a long history in Saratoga Springs, said Jamie Parillo, executive director of the Saratoga Springs History Museum.

It was installed in the 1870s during the golden age of gambling in Saratoga Springs. Similar fountains were displayed around Saratoga Springs during that time, including in the courtyard of the Grand Union Hotel, but it is unknown whether they were identical to the Congress Park fountain or whether there were variations, Parillo said.

Local legend says that when the Canfield Casino was open for business, a red ball would be placed in the fountain and float atop the spray of water.

“It meant [John] Morrissey’s clubhouse was open, come on in and play,” Parillo said, adding he didn’t know whether the story is true.

 
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