By Ron VandenBoom
More than $900 in damage was done to the James J. Hill Fountain in front of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Depot Monday when vandals poured soap into the fountain and broke a valve that allowed water to circulate through the pumps.
The pumps were destroyed when the water, that served as a coolant for the pumps, was cut off allowing them to overheat and freeze.
According to Frank DeRosa, who headed the project to build the fountain, this is not the first time the fountain has been vandalized.
DeRosa noted that last year alone vandals had poured soap into the fountain on five separate occasions.
This is the first time however any damage has been done to the pumps, DeRosa said.
Each pump, at a cost of about $300 each, will have to be replaced, he said, adding that it appeared the vandals would have had to have used some kind of a tool to break the valve and would have had to deliberately wanted to damage it.
DeRosa said he apologizes to the public for the fountain not working explaining he has no idea how long it may take to fix.
DeRosa said he has been reluctant in the past to make an issue of the vandalism because he believes what the vandals were really looking for was publicity.
"To publicize it would just be giving them what they want," DeRosa said.
DeRosa said the reason he is making an exception now is because he is hoping that someone saw something in the area Monday evening and will provide the authorities information that will lead to the arrest of the vandals.
"Maybe what we need is some kind of citizen's patrol," he said.