Future of Fountain of Life topic of discussion at special City Council meeting

CATHEDRAL CITY — The future of the Mayor Gregory S. Pettis Fountain of Life, as the community knows it, could be in jeopardy due to surface deterioration, safety concerns, slip and fall issues, and potential structure issues.

There are also reportedly varying degrees of risk associated with operating the fountain as an interactive, climbable water feature. One of the primary concerns with the feature is that it is frequently climbed by children. It is relatively easy to get high on the structure and, unfortunately, easy to fall from that height without any guardrails. The height is at least 5 feet, according to a city staff report.

Let’s cut to the chase: Staff is recommending the Fountain of Life, which opened in 2000 and has been a popular place for children to play in summer heat, be dedicated as a visual-only water feature art piece in the downtown.

The solution to fixing the fall safety hazard and the damage to the Cantera stone is to fence-off access to the central structure. A decorative fence would allow guests to enjoy the structure and feel the water in some areas, but it should eliminate most of the climbing.
Conceptually, the fence would be relatively low (42”) and would be made entirely of painted stainless steel. Although glass could be used, the water would create a lot of
maintenance problems for the glass. The stainless-steel fence could be a whimsical design of sea creatures to match the decorative animals attached to the Cantera stone sculpture.

The future of the Mayor Gregory S. Pettis Fountain of Life is up for review Wednesday, when the City Council meets in special session. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. April 5 in the City Council Chambers, 68-700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero.

The fountain has not been operational for the past six months. Staff has inspected the fountain and soft surface. After internal inspection of the fountain and soft surface, staff reached out for a third-party review conducted by David Peterson of Watershapes Consulting, a structural engineering firm; and Eric Dobbs, the original general contractor’s brother.

“Due to potential structural issues, deterioration and damage to the soft surface and the
associated risk with it being an interactive, climbable feature, staff is recommending the
Fountain of Life be dedicated to being a central art piece in the downtown.” Biersack wrote in his staff report.

With City Council concurrence, staff plans to engage a third-party consultant to create a conceptual design (estimated at $15,000) for the Fountain’s proposed use to include these considerations:

  • Fencing (potentially made of recyclable materials) to protect and safeguard the
  • Concrete and/or soft surface options inside and outside fencing
  • Water flow and drain

In the upcoming Parks Improvement Project (PIP) Plan, staff has proposed additional and improved water features in various parks throughout the city to help offset the potential future use of the Town Square Fountain as a visual-only water feature.:

  • Add a water feature to the grounds of Town Square – but not within the Fountain of Life core (FY 2023/2024); and Century Park (FY 2024/2025)
  • Improve the water feature at Ocotillo Park (FY 2025/2026) and Panorama Park (FY 2026/2027)

As part of the Facilities Master Plan, the city’s Town Square will be one of 14 facilities to be evaluated as part of the Facilities Condition Assessment. In the upcoming biennial budget, staff has included $150,000 to address potential issues with the Fountain of Life in the first budget year.













Image Sources

  • Fountain of Life: City of Cathedral City