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There Is A Better Place for the Kenan Fountain

The Kenan Memorial Fountain, if any reader doesn’t know, is that wedding cake sitting in the middle of our narrowest of heavily traveled streets downtown. That would be Market Street at 5th, where cars must complete a tight half circle around. Besides hurricane damage, there have been periodic vehicle hits and expensive repairs. While we are advocates for “traffic calming” like brick streets and opening selected streets to bikes and alternative vehicles, no question this one is excessively hazardous.


The StarNews made it the subject of a powerful Opinion column this past Thursday June 13, 2019. “Time to Move Fountain…… one day an SUV is going to veer off course and destroy the fountain once and for all, crushing the mermen, dolphins and terrapins some of us love”.


Finding Somewhere Less Hazardous and More Accessible

The Opinion piece expresses concern about repeated repair costs and asks “isn’t it time we moved the fountain somewhere less hazardous and more accessible,” citing Greenfield Lake or the riverfront “where it can be safely enjoyed.”


No Place of Honor for One Member of the Kenan Family

Finally, the StarNews points out that the Fountain should honor the Kenan family philanthropy in Wilmington and North Carolina, and not specifically William Rand Kenan Sr., a leader in the appalling bloodbath of 1898, “who deserves no place of honor in Wilmington.” We unequivocally agree.


Our Recommendation—Move the Fountain to Renaissance Park, a City Owned Property Abutting the Riverwalk, in front of the Embassy Suites Hotel:

At the request of the City, Renaissance Wilmington Foundation and Howard T. Capps & Associates, Inc., Landscape Architects, have worked as volunteers to create a park plan using the last small out-parcel available for development as a City Park, on the 1.75 mile long Riverwalk. Howard Capps design, approved by the City and State, would provide for a central fountain surrounded by shade trees and benches, an urban oasis with a separate drinking fountain for human and animal use. This park is intended for quiet, shady contemplation as a resting place for users of the Riverwalk, like none other.


More significantly, the park will connect to the Convention Center, its Parking Garage and Embassy Suites as a visual front door to Wilmington and its engineering marvel, the Riverwalk, visited by a million people a year.


Placing the Kenan Memorial in Renaissance Park, rededicated to the Kenan Family

philanthropy, meets every criteria. Preservation, accessibility and reconciliation of old and new in Wilmington.

*We congratulate the Star News on a bold and clear proposal. Many interests will weigh in on this issue. Let the discussion begin. Change is never easy. Excelsior!


Bill Graham


For those of you who would like to see the Park design and physical site, please go to: https://www.renaissancewilmingtonfoundation.org/renaissance-park

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Renaissance Wilmington Foundation

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