City crews complete first phase of Kenan Fountain lighting

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Kenan Fountain occupies the middle of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Market Street in Wilmington. Port City Daily file photo.
Kenan Fountain occupies the middle of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Market Street in Wilmington. Port City Daily file photo.

City of Wilmington crews recently completed the first phase of a new lighting scheme for Kenan Fountain to make it more visible for drivers.

The circa-1921 fountain–at the intersection of Market Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Wilmington–was turned on Monday night to coincide with the N.C. Azalea Festival, according to Wilmington City Spokeswoman Malissa Talbert.

Wilmington City Council approved a new lighting scheme last year for the fountain, citing the need for better lighting to prevent cars from crashing into it or side-swiping it. Cracks, scrape marks and car-rendered scars are evidence of at least 20 impacts Kenan Fountain has sustained in the past five or six years alone. In the greater plaza around it, the city has documented at least 75 miscellaneous accidents in the same period. Most occurred around 2 a.m.

Related story: City staff recommends Musco for new Kenan Fountain lighting

“City staff is coordinating the phase II placement of additional lighting at the fountain and on the overhead traffic poles with the NCDOT since Market Street is a state-maintained street,” Talbert said. “Staff has recently completed an agreement with NCDOT that, if approved by City Council, will pave the way for the additional lighting and traffic improvements to be installed.”

In 2013, the city settled with an insurance company for $50,000 for damages to the fountain after an impaired driver slammed into the fountain.