Historic Preservation Commission postpones fountain decision

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

The Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission decided to postpone a decision on the use of colored lighting at the Gateway Park fountain during its meeting on Thursday.

The city is performing maintenance on the fountain and proposed to replace the existing light bulbs with LED bulbs that can change colors.

Stephen Brown, the applicant of the case, said the lights would be mounted in the side of the second tier of the fountain and directed upward. He said the lights would still be underwater, and they would only change the color during special occasions, like holidays.

“The majority of the time they’re going to be clear. It just may be St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, things like that, that we would change the color,” Brown said.

The fountain, which features the biblical character Rebecca, sits on the corner of East Innes and Depot streets in Robertson Eastern-Gateway Park. It is a replica of a fountain that was at the intersection of Innes and Main streets erected in 1888 and taken down in 1905 to make way for cars.

Today’s fountain has not had work done on it since its installation in 1997. The maintenance started last month.

While the fountain has always had white lights that shined at night, the city decided to research other options for lighting.

Clyde, a local artist and collector, was the only one who spoke during the public hearing.

“As far as preserving history, I can’t think of anything more incompatible than colored lights,” he said.

He said the that even though the fountain is a replica, it has never had LED lights. He also mentioned that there is no other place downtown that uses colored lights.

Clyde said the city could celebrate holidays in other ways, like putting up banners and flags, dying the water in the fountain or putting up temporary displays around the fountain.

He said if the commission allowed the colored lights, it would open the doors for other places to do the same.

“I can’t wait for you to pass this, and if you do, I’m putting colored lights on my house because you would set a precedent,” he said.

Some of the commissioners agreed with parts of what Clyde said.

“There are no other colored lights in town,” Commissioner Dan DeGraaf said. He also said he was having difficulty separating the issue of allowing colored lights from whether having colored lights was in good taste.

Commissioner Acey Worthy said colored lighting is used for national monuments. He later suggested they postpone the discussion to find out if any city ordinances deal with downtown colored lights.

Commissioner Carl Peters said he saw no problem with having the colored lights. He said the lights would be subtle and compatible with the surrounding area and the guidelines do not restrict the use of colored lights.

“I don’t see any issues whatsoever,” he said. “I don’t see why color should be the issue. Light is light and color is beautiful.”

Commissioner Elizabeth Trick said the lights might be a zoning issue that would go along with the restriction of neon signs and lights.

Catherine Garner, staff liaison for the commission, said the commission could take Worthy’s suggestion and table the discussion to find out whether there are city regulations concerning colored lights, and also research how other historic districts regulate downtown lighting.

“How have other commissions dealt with this? Have they dealt with this? It might be interesting to know,” she said.

The commission voted to table the discussion in order to perform that research. The motion was approved with a 6-1 vote, with Carl Peters voting against.

In other business, the commission approved Certificates of Appropriateness for:

  • A storage building for the property at 501 W. Council St.
  • Dark green canvas awnings on the side screened porch of the property at 209 W. Bank St.
  • The replacement of a light and ceiling fans with three steel lights at 506 W. Council St.
  • A raised platform relocating the A/C units to a higher elevation, the relocation of a walk-in cooler to the former A/C platform, the addition of lighting and a second hood vent penetration to the alley for an indoor smoker for the Smoke Pit at 107-117 E. Innes St. There was an amendment added to require the cooler to be painted to match the wall of the building.
  • A kitchen hood to be installed in an existing window opening for the Shuckin’ Shack restaurant at 118-120 N. Main St.
  • Repairs on the roof of the Frick Building at 230 E. Kerr St.
  • A roof deck addition at a property at 101 S. Main St, with the amendment that the property owners would repair the chimney.
  • The addition of a porch with steps, an accessible lift to a proposed lower terrace and a fence along the property lined shared with the Rowan Oaks Bed and Breakfast.

The commission also:

  • Elected new officers and swore-in new commission members.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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