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Cast-iron fountain is the newest gathering spot in Bel Air's Shamrock Park

Bel Air Mayor Robert Reier, left, and Commissioner Edward Hopkins pose in front of a fountain recently installed at Shamrock Park.
Bel Air Mayor Robert Reier, left, and Commissioner Edward Hopkins pose in front of a fountain recently installed at Shamrock Park. (ALLAN VOUGHT | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media)

With the recent installation of a cast-iron fountain, visitors to Bel Air's Shamrock Park have one more "focal point," or location where they can gather and enjoy the park.

The installation of the fountain, which Bel Air residents Kathleen and William Bacon donated to the town about two years ago, was completed shortly before Memorial Day, town Planning Director Kevin Small said.

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The fountain has been placed near the William A. Humbert Amphitheater.

"People seem to like it and think it's an appropriate addition to the park," Small said.

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The project cost about $25,000, and the town covered the majority of the cost with support from the Dresher Foundation, a Baltimore area nonprofit whose founders, the late James and Virginia Dresher, lived near Bel Air for many years.

The cast-iron fountain is a J.W. Fiske product cast in the same company foundry as a fountain cast for New York City's Central Park in the late 1800s or early 1900s, according to Small.

The fountain sat in storage for at least two years until the town was able to put together the money for the projects, as well as find a location and design the site.

Small said the fountain had to be refurbished, the pump and filter had to be replaced, water and electrical service had to be extended, and then a concrete basin and wall made of concrete masonry units had to be built, installed and sealed.

Construction work started during the fall of 2014, but it was stalled by the cold and snowy winter weather.

"The last 10 percent was done just a month ago when the weather broke and we were able to get some good weather and take care of the basin," Small said of the weatherproofing phase.

He said the project came about through discussions with Bill Akehurst, a co-owner of Joppa-based Akehurst Landscape Service, who suggested to Small and other town officials that it would be "a nice addition" to the park.

The fountain and basin were installed on the former flag court on the left-hand side of the Humbert Amphitheater.

"While it was a nice area, [the flag court] just didn't seem to have a focal point, and we wanted to be able to install something there that would create a nice focal point and provide a more serene setting, and we thought water would help toward that," Small said.

He said much of Shamrock Park is "already programmed for something," or in use, such as the grassy area in front of the amphitheater and the playground on the far side of the park near the intersection of Lee Way and Pennsylvania Avenue.

"We wanted to find a place that was outside of those areas and one that was close to a water source," he said.

The fountain's location is behind Bel Air Town Hall and near the Bel Air branch of the Harford County Public Library.

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A small stream of water was flowing late Wednesday morning as a Bel Air police officer talked to a group of schoolchildren sitting nearby under a shade tree.

Pennies, which are typically tossed in fountains for good luck, could be seen in the basin.

Small said he has seen people eating their lunches there, and the fountain is meant to be a draw for people who work at or visit Town Hall or the library.

"That was the intention, to place it in a location that is close to potential users of it, especially for lunch and after work," he said.

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