GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two state senators from West Michigan are calling for resources to restore an iconic feature outside of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Grand Rapids resident Jake Farr walks near the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum each day, and he has wondered what once sat in the empty cement area in front of the facility.
“I’ve never seen it operational. I’ve never even known what it was,” Farr said. “So, it would be nice to see something there.”
October of 2019 was the last time the museum’s nearly 42-year-old reflecting pool and fountain worked.
“It just is old. It needs refurbishment. Anything that’s got a lot of water running through it that’s that age has problems,” Gleaves Whitney, executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, said.
Whitney added that fixing those problems does carry a price tag.
“According to the studies that have been made, between $4 and 5 million to refurbish the fountain and the reflecting pool, but Congress has that responsibility,” Whitney said.
The museum is administered through the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
On Thursday, the Michigan Senate approved a bipartisan resolution by Sens. Mark Huizenga, R-Walker, and Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, which requests support and funding to restore the pool and fountain.
“I had a chance to meet with the folks at the Ford Museum last summer, and we had an idea that said, ‘Well, maybe let’s put together a letter talking about urging this,'” Huizenga said. “And then this came to me about last week. I said, ‘You know what, we should do a resolution. Because this is something that oftentimes gets people’s attention.”
Huizenga says he hopes elected officials backing the restoration will help get it across the finish line.
“This whole idea of a reflecting pool, what it means, it’s symbolic of what we see in Washington, D.C.,” Huizenga said. “It makes this place pretty special.”
Whitney says it’s time see the fountain and pool return to glory.
“The people want it done. This is a beautiful, iconic feature of our city, and we don’t want it to be in disrepair,” Whitney said.
Whitney says community members can show their support by contacting their congressional representatives or by joining Friends of Ford.