“We’re working on something really cool that was brought to me by people in the community,” said Island Free Library Director Kristin Baumann at a recent Board of Trustees meeting. “We’re on the list to get a water fountain,” she said, noting that once it’s installed, people can refill their “water bottle, as opposed to buying a water bottle.”
Baumann said the library is on the list to receive and install an inexpensive water fountain/filling station designed by New Shoreham Facilities Manager Sam Bird. She said the new water fountain would be fully funded by the Friends of the Library, and she hopes to have it located in front of the library within the next few weeks.
Bird told The Block Island Times that the wooden fountain would cost about $350 to $450, and require Highways Department Supervisor Mike Shea and his crew to construct it. Bird said unlike the Solviken water fountain, which is made of metal and has been problematic, his fountain would be constructed from wood to “fit in with the Block Island character. It’s a very practical drinking fountain.”
Baumann said the genesis for installing the fountain was borne from a conversation she had with some members of the community about being eco-friendly in the aftermath of the balloon and plastic bag ban on the island. She said that the island’s establishments are making a concerted effort to move way from the use of plastic, and she wanted the library to follow suit.
In an interview with The Times, Baumann said she heard about Bird’s design sketch through the community. Bird said he drafted a sketch for the Old Harbor Task Force, and Chair Margie Comings, whose board is looking to install a water fountain at Nicholas Ball Park.
“I heard that Sam had a prototype,” said Baumann. “So I asked him if we could get our own installed at the library. It’s exciting to me because it’s another way to reduce plastic in the environment.”
Bird said he “totally supports” installing wood-based water fountains/bottle filling stations where necessary around the town. “I’m all for it,” he said. “I think it would be a great idea — to have more around town.”
Bird noted that the water fountains would have to be compliant with public water supply guidelines, and may have to be vetted by the Historic District Commission. “Where they go can be tricky,” he said, noting that the library already has an indoor drinking fountain.
“I’d be happy to take the project to the next step,” said Bird of the library’s project. In response, Baumann said, “I’m ready to go. Let’s go.”