By Davenport budget standards, $30,000 to fix a fountain is a blip of a project.

But the long-awaited repair of Dillon Fountain at the foot of Main Street — which got under way this week — carries some symbolism.

“This is one of those things, where if you go to a community and the fountains don’t work, you wonder why,” City Administrator Craig Malin said.

Getting the Dillon Fountain to work again, like getting the Vander Veer Botanical Park and Kaiserslautern Square fountains operational again, is a small thing, compared to the big-picture stuff like RiverVision, revitalizing neighborhoods, building a police station, or the tens of millions spread around the city for street and sewer repairs, Malin added.

“But the small things matter,” he said.  “A dry fountain is a bad sign — it’s evidence that someone doesn’t care enough to do something.”

The downtown fountain has been dry for a little more than two years.

The current project calls for re-tiling and replacing the fountain pumps, with the goal of having water splashing soon this spring, Charlie Heston, a city project manager, said.

The fountain was built in 1914. It was a gift from John F. Dillon, a New York City judge and Davenport native. It was restored once in 1984, and touched up when the Main Street Plaza was spruced up and dedicated in 1997, Heston said.

The big blue tarp over the fountain is protecting the new tile job from the elements, Heston said. In the future, an awning will be placed over the fountain to protect it during winter storage.

Malin said fixing Dillon Fountain, assisting in removing the crumbling wall along the railroad bridge near 4th Street and Pershing Avenue and finding money to renovate the crumbling Taylor Heights School are evidence that Davenport’s leadership is serious about strengthening the city’s image.

“When fountains work, it’s evidence of care,” Malin said. “They are often the first things to fail, and often among the easiest not to fix.”

Tory Brecht can be contacted at (563) 383-2329 or