The once beautiful fountain that welcomes visitors to 506 Main Street in Kentlands now sits damaged and empty, a state it has been in for several months.
The fountain, entitled “Market Square Colonnade,” is part of the Art in Public Places (AIPP) program sponsored by the city of Gaithersburg. According to the program website, the mission of the organization is to “develop works of art throughout the city to create a sense of place and pride for the Gaithersburg community.”
Unfortunately, in this case, the fountain is less a source of pride than of concern among community members.
“Market Square Colonnade” was installed in its location in 2001 and is constructed of cast stone, steel and aluminum. Yale graduate and professor Kent Bloomer created the fountain and the meditative circular seating area adjacent to the Main Street pavilion.
“At the center of the peristyle is a cast stone fountain with a form derived from the acanthus leaf. The basin of the fountain, enclosed by the peristyle, provides an inviting place for community residents to sit and linger,” Bloomer said of his artwork.
In early August, Gaithersburg Acting City Manager Tony Tomasello, Director of Planning and Code John Schlichting and Neighborhood Services Director Kevin Roman met with Tom Natelli of Natelli Communities, a tenant at 506 Main Street. Natelli expressed concern over the condition of the fountain.
The city representatives explained that the property is in violation of a court order requiring the owner, 506 Main Street LLC, managed by Triumph Development, to make repairs to the fountain. In addition, the city is filing additional hearings with the District Court because the property owner has failed to comply.
“We have been in contact with the property owner, and there has been interest shown in converting the decorative fountain to a planter. The city is open to working with the owner to ensure the required approvals are obtained to allow for change,” Roman said.
“One of the required approvals will be from the city’s Art in Public Places subcommittee, a subcommittee of the city’s Cultural Arts Advisory Committee. The city’s cultural arts administrator, Denise Kayser, has been in contact with the artist, and he is supportive of the conversion of the fountain to a planter. We have also asked the property owner to repaint the surrounding sculptural trellis, and he expressed willingness to do so,” Schlichting said.
“There is a planning process for this to occur and, to date, nothing has formally begun. Accordingly, the outstanding violations remain, and the city will continue its code enforcement process to ensure the violation is corrected,” Roman said.