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Maybe it's Time to Replace Downtown Fountain

Novato's watery cornerstone at Redwood & Grant, a fountain named for Mabel Hartman, has been enjoyed for 31 years.

More than 30 years ago, a local retiree Mabel Hartman set aside $5,000 in her will with directions for the Novato Garden Club to create a fountain in one of the Redwood Boulevard medians. 

Hartman was a charter member of the club in 1935 and resident of a 45-acre Happy Day Farm at 2495 Novato Boulevard, near modern-day and . The Hartmans owned a jewelry store in San Francisco and the farm was their weekend getaway. Once they retired, the ardent gardeners made Novato home.

We have driven past this fountain at Redwood Boulevard and Grant Avenue for many years, visitors have asked me about this fountain. Is it a totem pole? What is the history?

After driving by the other day, I decided to take a closer look. I could not get too close to the base because the foundation is cracking and water appears to have saturated the surrounding grounds.

As the has diligently worked to improve the appearance of the downtown over the years, one can only wonder why this fountain has not been modernized.

I know that sometimes citizens donate supplies, labor and plans to create beautiful parks, fountains and murals, but then the city is left with the maintenance chores once after the volunteers have finished the project. At one time, city coffers were full and there might have been money for an upgrade. Now, with all the millions of dollars in reductions, there are few options for repair.

After 30 years of operation, the fountain's redwood is rotting, the PVC pipes are broken and foundation is crumbling. What does this say about the state of our city? 

Can we restore this fountain to its former brilliance or create a new one to mirror the improvements downtown? What do you think should be done?

The Novato Garden Club would like to know what the ciitizen's think prior to their next meeting. The club's mission, for the past 75 years, has been to beautify the city of Novato. How do you feel about the fountain?

Thank you to the Novato History Museum's curator Samantha Kimpel and volunteer Cindy Motsinger for their assistance leafing through the scrapbooks and files for this story.

Craig Belfor September 08, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Am I the only one who read the article today in the IJ that a group from Novato got $625,000 to stop teen drinking? For this kind of money, we could buy all the booze in town before the kids get to it, dump it in the fountain, and when the Wyndover wino tells his dirtbag buddies via his Iphone, they'll stage a reenactment of the first scene of "Tale of Two Cities". With Wyndover being 98% vacant, just change the locks, move in the squeaks that missed out on Nova Row, save the money from the Warner Creek senior complex being built, fix the theater instead, and give the kids a place to go. Do I have to think of everything? Really-$625,000? We need their lobbyist. He's good. Most of that money will go to administration, so Hilltop will be where they meet.
Craig Belfor September 08, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Oh yea- about the fountain. Turn it into a porta potty. Might as well keep it doing the same job it's been doing all these years.
Tracey Ruiz September 09, 2011 at 05:11 AM
What about using the same design but different materials? I think a mix of painted metal (iron & steel) and corrugated metal would take us back to Novato's farming days. I'd love to see a design contest open to Novato residents and Marin artists.
joyceapplen September 12, 2011 at 11:40 PM
I am in favor of replacing it with something better and more appropriate of for today. Something that will be more durable.
Novato Chess Club December 09, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Support Rotary and Rotarian's in Novato....

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