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Whar she blows? Whale sculpture high and dry

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Publication: The Day

Published August 11. 2010 4:00AM   Updated August 11. 2010 8:34AM

New London - A whale's tail fountain was installed Tuesday on the renovated Parade at the foot of State Street but the water has yet to be turned on.

It could be the biggest fluke of the project, which is eight months behind schedule.

City Manager Martin Berliner said pavers surrounding the 8,000-pound bronze sculpture in the middle of the new amphitheater have to be pulled up and reinstalled. The contractor, Haynes Construction of Seymour, did not grade the pavement around the fountain, so water was not draining. Also, a new drain pipe will be installed to draw water away from the plaza area around the fountain.

The fountain could be turned on by next week, Berliner said, but he wasn't sure it could happen that fast.

A meeting is scheduled for next week between city officials and Haynes to work out final projects to complete the job.

"Once we have that meeting, I'll have answers for all these questions,'' Berliner said.

It is the latest development in the $10 million project - funded almost entirely with state funds - that was supposed to be completed in January. Although the space was dedicated in June, Haynes Construction has continued to work on the space, correcting items that have not been completed. The corrections have not cost the city any additional money, Berliner said.

An elevator and glass stairwell at the adjacent Water Street Parking Garage are also not yet open. There has been a problem with leaks, Berliner said, and the elevator is not functioning.

Other parts of the original plan that will not be going forward include a statue of Nathan Hale that was supposed to be place next to the relocated Nathan Hale Schoolhouse, and a sculpture of a seal that was supposed to bark when pedestrians walked by.

The historic and artistic aspects of the project were funded separately with a $900,000 grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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