KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Workers this week will begin preparing the Bronson Park grounds for the removal of a controversial fountain.
Crews will install fencing around the Fountain of the Pioneers later this week. Next week, a private contractor will begin removing “artistically significant” parts of the fountain for preservation work. Those pieces will be stored until the city can find “a suitable venue” to display them.
After that, workers will remove the remaining fountain elements from the larger pool, leaving only the water cannons, drinking fountains and perimeter walls. The pool areas will then be filled and converted into lawns until the city comes up with a long-term plan.
The fountain shows an armed European settler standing over a Native American. It has long been the center of debate: Opponents say it’s racist while supporters call it art and say it forces people to reflect on history.
Kalamazoo city commissioners voted last month to remove the fountain from the park.
The fountain work is expected to be completed by Memorial Day and shouldn’t impact summer events at Bronson Park. The park will remain open during the work, although some sidewalks may be closed.
Additional updates to Bronson Park outlined in the city’s master plan are expected to start next year. The city says it’s working with the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians to incorporate elements in the park that accurately portray their history and culture.