CHICAGO (CBS) — The Fountain Square Plaza was supposed to be one of the crown jewels in Evanston, but after millions of dollars in improvements, the fountain still remains dry.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports the only water in Evanston’s fountain square are the remnants of the morning rain.

The project is nearly nine months overdue, not counting the months more of construction. With every day, the project remains in progress. The city can deduct a chunk of change from the contractor’s bill. Currently that number is $178,000 and growing with every passing day.

“I think everyone in Evanston is frustrated with it,” said David Stoneback, the Evanston Public Works Director.

The $6 million rehabbed plaza is nearly complete, but the city can only describe what its centerpiece fountain should look like.

“The jets will go up and they’ll come up different heights,” said Stoneback.

The project was supposed to be completed by last December, then the deadline moved to May. Contractors forgot to test the pipes before laying costly bricks and stone.

In a summer marred by construction crews and delayed celebration, one consolation to taxpayers is a penalty clause in the city’s contract.

“We are charging $1,425 a calendar day for not completing the project,” Stoneback explained, which amounts to $178,000 to date. If it stretches another 30 days and $42,750, the city will deduct another $42,750 dollars from the bill, for a grand total of $220, 750.

Brian Huston’s Boltwood Restaurant looks out onto the square and says it has been tough looking at safety cones for six months. He said he remembers a day, two weeks ago, when they tested the fountain for just one moment.

“I screamed to the staff, ‘Hey! It’s on!’ and then it was off,” Huston recalled.

Contractors say last minute tweaks to the fountain’s software should take another month, but the city has become accustomed to feeling high and dry.

“This contractor hasn’t finished anything on time so nobody is certain,” said Stoneback.

The contractor, Copenhaver, was not chosen at random. They submitted the lowest bid. Communities in the western suburbs, like Aurora, have good things to say about their work in their communities.

Evanston officials hope the project is complete and the fountain is up and running by December.


Evanston’s Fountain Square Missing Much Needed Water

Vince Gerasole