LOGAN SQUARE — A drinking fountain in Palmer Square Park has been running for weeks — and neighbors are frustrated.
They’re concerned about the water waste, but also about the “mess” it’s created for park users. The fountain sits next to a clogged city drain, which has resulted in a “giant pond for seven to eight weeks,” according to neighbor Steve Hier.
“The grass gets soaked up, the runners tear up the trail trying to walk around it,” Jeff Goeters, president of the Palmer Square Park Advisory Council, said.
Goeters said his group is also worried the puddle will attract bacteria, rats and mosquitos.
“If it’s to keep someone from dying of lead poisoning, it’s a different story, but [the flushing] is not supposed to be for this long,” he said.
In recent years, the Chicago Park District has been keeping drinking fountains across the city running at the start of each season in a broader effort to keep pipes lead free, according to WBEZ.
After finding lead in the water of hundreds of park fountains, the city agency developed a five-year plan to either remove those fountains or replace the toxic lines with copper, according to WBEZ.
The park district told WBEZ the fountains that are kept on are the ones that have already passed lead tests. They’re kept on “as a precaution and to condition the pipes,” WBEZ reported. The ones that don’t pass lead tests are repaired, replaced or removed.
According to the station, the park district has been returning many of the fountains to push-button use within a few weeks, but some of them — the ones that, at one point, had “problematic” lead readings — are being kept on all season or until they’re fixed.
Goeters and his neighbors said if the city needs to keep their fountain on for safety reasons, fine, but it needs to fix the clogged drain, which is creating the large puddle. They said they’ve reached out to officials to fix the issue but their efforts have been unsuccessful so far.
“They’ve obviously forgotten about us,” Goeters said.
A spokeswoman for the park district didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday.
Chris Holden, a neighbor and “board member-at large” with the Palmer Square Park Advisory Council, said the park district needs to do a better job of explaining the issue to park users.
Holden said she doesn’t know whether people are supposed to use the drinking fountain or not.
“My assumption is if the water is running, I’m not supposed to drink it,” she said.
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