Dog statues in South Main Plaza fountain

Test fitting has taken place for many of the dog statues that will adorn the South Main Plaza fountain. The plaza is expected to be completed in November, but it is unlikely the fountain will be operational at that time.

MOUNT VERNON — Several of the 18 cast iron dogs that will call South Main Plaza home made a sneak-peek appearance at the fountain site recently as the sculptures were test fitted for water hookup to the fountain.

Construction of the re-imagined community gathering space, funded through a grant from The Ariel Foundation, started in late spring and is gearing up for a big finish before winter sets in. Once the second pour of the concrete cures, blue tiles can be installed on the base of the fountain.

Denny Taylor, project manager for Mount Vernon Nazarene University, expects tile work to begin around Wednesday, Oct. 16.

The gathering space around the fountain will take shape this month as landscaping with trees and shrubbery begins. The installation of brick pavers will bring additional definition to the area. It will take up to eight days to install the pavers which should be complete in early November, if the weather cooperates, Taylor said.

“We anticipate the project will be completed the second week of November,” Taylor said. “The weather will dictate whether we are able to start the water in the fountain or not. If it’s a cold fall, we will likely need to postpone starting the fountain until spring." 

Regardless of when the water begins to flow, Taylor has confirmed the fountain will be a focal point in downtown during the Christmas season as plans are underway for special decorations.

“While the fountain may not be flowing before spring, that does not mean that we have to wait that long to enjoy the charm of the redeveloped South Main Plaza,” said Jen Odenweller, executive director of The Ariel Foundation. “We believe the area will be very attractive to visit during the upcoming holiday and winter seasons.

"By early spring we will all be more than ready to see this playful creation in action and anticipate it will be a fun place to visit again and again.”

The fountain was inspired by Claude Cormier + Associés’ Berczy Park, Toronto, Canada. The new park concept, which included a fountain, plaza and greenspace, opened in 2017 and was an “instant sensation.”

An official opening and dedication are anticipated in Spring 2020.

Donations to the project will establish an endowment at the Knox County Foundation to cover future maintenance of the Plaza. The first $50,000 in donations to the endowment will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

Various opportunities to be a part of the endowment include sponsoring one of the sculptures, a bench, or celebrating the life of a four-legged family member on the Plaza’s donor wall. Those interested may do so by visiting www.mvnu.edu/give and designating the gift to “South Main Plaza” or by contacting Justin Nowicki, MVNU Assistant Vice President for Development at 740-397-9000, Ext 4302.

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