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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In Wilmington we enjoy our historical artifacts, from Historic Downtown to the Battleship North Carolina. But recently ninety-year-old Kenan Memorial Fountain has become the center of public debate.

After seven accidents since 2001, some people in City Hall are questioning the long-term future of the fountain at 5th and Market Streets that has been around for nine decades.

Transportation Planning Manager Mike Kozlosky says that, “staff has been asked to identify options to help improve the visibility of the fountain at 5th and Market”. After City Councilman Neil Anderson asked the city to look into ways to protect the fountain, Kozlosky came up with six options ranging from installing signage to raising pavement and improving the lighting. An extreme option would be to relocate the fountain to another part of the city.

Kozlosky also says, “our staff doesn’t know how viable or how palatable the relocation of the fountain may be. It would be very difficult to relocate the fountain, however we are developing options and that is one that could be considered by council”

At the end of the day, the biggest issue the city is faced with is balancing safety with cost. According to Kozlosky, “there’s no funding identified in the city’s capital improvement program to make modifications at this location. Staff is developing a recommendation and once that recommendation has been developed we would also have to identify where any funds may come from to make the improvements at this intersection.”

Comment on this Story

  • Guesttoo

    I think the city may be accidently on to something here! Install some form of traffic “maze” that any normal, sober driver can negotiate and man it from midnight to 4am. As the drunks try to leave wilmington, it should be easy pickin’s. Install the maze on the downtown side of the fountain and it will be protected!

    If people think that it’s just too difficult to drive around an icon that has been in the same place since well before most of us were driving, they should choose an alternate route. There are a few of them between Wooster and MLK

  • Wilmington Observer

    Do not move the fountain for it has not caused any problems. Drunk drivers have caused the problems. I would suggest making the intersection a roundabout with rumble strips in the roadway prior to the intersection. The tactile vibrations caused by rumble strips would garner the attention of unsuspecting, sleepy, distracted and intoxicated drivers approaching the historic landmark and slow them down through the intersection. Additional sinage would be a, financial, waste. If a driver rruns into the fountain because they did not see it, I doubt they are going to pay attention to, yet, another sign.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Pay_the_bill

    Well…It is in NO WAY the fountains fault when someone crashes into it…It will always be the driver of the car. Whether they crashed into the fountain themselves or were pushed into the fountain by other crashing cars.

    The at-fault drivers of the cars should be responsible for 100% of the cost to fix the fountain from their crash. That includes repair, supplies, labor and needed police for traffic control during repair work.

    I don’t know how much more visible you can make a fountain that is in the middle of the road and has been in this location for 90 years.

    The issues are probably speeding or DWI and in either case, you will never make the fountain visible enough to compensate for stupidity.

    Charge the drivers for repair costs and it takes NOTHING from the city budget.

  • Guest123

    you are absolutely correct, however, the big problem the city has (and us taxpayers) is that thing gets hit all the time by folks causing damage where it is only found after the fact. Hit and run with no driver waiting there for them to send the bill.


    How many of the seven that hit the fountain were charged with DUI?

  • ChefnSurf

    No funding for capital improvements while at the very same time there’s 50+ Million to blow on a baseball stadium for a company that’s nor even from Wilmington.

    Nice to know city “leaders” have their priorities straight.

  • taxpayer

    they could have fixed the fountain or moved it.

  • Guester

    Why should there be funding in the city’s budget to move a fountain?

  • Donwrong

    Man does the City like to waste Money and their employee’s time with stupid ideas!!!

  • Das Weibstück

    It’s the Kenan fountain, let them move it. They have money.

  • Vog46

    On my first encounter with “the fountain” I was flabbergasted (no I didn’t hit it).
    Then I did some research – donated in 1921.
    Congratulations city of Wilmington! In 1921 you had, what, 3 cars and maybe 14,000 folks living here? Glad the horse drawn carriages could maneuver around Kenans folly.
    As our city has grown so has our penchant for “things that are old”.
    This is a stupid location for a very attractive piece of history – but history can not and should not stand in the way of progress and public safety.
    Move the damn thing to a safe location – preserve it for future generations – get it out of the way of deranged drivers. Historical significance should not exacerbate safety hazards for John Q Public.
    I’m all FOR being responsible and for history but putting a road block on a major thorough fair in this day and age is as stupid an idea as building a ball park with taxpayer dollars.


  • Guester

    For crying out loud. If you don’t know how to drive around the fountain, you don’t belong behind the wheel of a car. Do you have problems driving around traffic circles, too? If you are stupid enough to hit the fountain “cuz it’s in the way,” then you need to have your driving privileges revoked and should probably make an appointment with the eye doctor. Is it really that big of an issue? If people can’t see it at night, then let’s just buy a few more lights to light it up. And set up a sheriff or police officer there to pick off the drunks before they get there. Done.

  • Guest1948

    Simple and cheap — put a heavy steel pipe barrier buried deep in concrete around the fountain. Heavily fine anyone convicted of DUI in the future who runs into it to pay for the project.


  • Guest327

    Most Wilmington dwellers know the fountain is there. However, many out-of-towners do not. Few expect a huge fountain in the middle of the street that you have to steer around, especially if you are being crowded by the car to the right of you. It should have been moved when the street was paved. Any and all obstructions should be removed from the traveled portion of the roadways, fountains, speed bumps and anything else that might make the roadway more dangerous.

  • Wilmington Observer

    You say that any and all obstructions should be removed from the traveled portion of the roadways. Does this include the slow moving drivers in the left lane? How about the individual who breaks BEFORE pulling into the center turn lane? What about the “texter” at the red light who continues to sit there after the light turns green? These drivers, certainly, need to be removed from the “traveled portion of the roadway” but, since the fountain is NOT in the traveled portion of the roadway, it should stay where it is.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Beach Bum

    Perhaps the fountain is not the one with the problem…


    “Chapter 4
    Your Driving
    Good driving skills should be developed and practiced at all times. You should
    also know your physical and mental limitations and not drive a vehicle when
    you are too tired or sleepy. When traveling long distances, plan ahead, know
    your route and be alert to the driving conditions. Your ability to safely operate
    a motor vehicle may save your life as well as the lives of others.

    Driver Safety
    Driver Condition
    Your driving is affected by your physical and mental health. To obtain a driver
    license, you must be in good health. If you have health problems that are serious
    and long term in nature, they will likely come to the attention of the DMV.
    More often, health problems are short term, like suffering from colds, headaches
    or flu. You should remember that any time you are not feeling well, your driving
    is likely to be different. You may be less alert and less responsive than normal.”

  • Wilmington Observer

    You make a valid point (hit and run drivers). The city, already, has a system of traffic cameras. Installing a few more to aid in identifying those who hit the fountain (and leave without taking, financial, responsibility) would make sense.

    Wilmington Observer

  • ChefnSurf

    You’re right, there shouldn’t have to be funding to move the fountain.

    That’s what makes city council’s decision to fund a 50+ million dollar stadium for an out-of-town for-profit enterprise seem so very very much less justifiable in comparison.

  • Guester

    I didn’t think Council had agreed to fund the stadium. I thought that was up to the voters in November. There aren’t funds for a baseball stadium in the budget, either.

  • ChefnSurf

    No point in debating this with you. We’re both fully aware of the current scenario, as is everyone in Wilmington.

    One of us is being just disingenuous at the moment. (Hint: It’s not me) Cute, but ultimately an ineffective strategy.

    Say Hi to Dukie!

  • Vog46

    Thats not the point.
    It was built in the horse an buggy days. Horses go about 10 mph. Perhaps we should impose those “historical” speed limits eh?
    Buildings built during that time have to be brought up to code don’t they?
    Same thing with roads.
    Obstructions? Remove them.
    We’re talking Market st here not some piddly side street.
    Move the darned thing to save it.



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