Cash boost for Fountain Gardens
COUNCIL bosses plan to drain a 143-year-old charity account and splash out on redeveloping a historic park.
Paisley’s Fountain Gardens were once Paisley’s crown jewel but have slipped into a sorry state after being plagued by neds and boozed-up teens.
Now Renfrewshire Council have voted through plans to dip into a charitable fund set up by the famous mill-owning Coats family back in 1868 when they donated the park and its famous 30-foot-high fountain.
The fund was set up following three separate donations from the Coats to help maintain the park and its balance currently sits at around £20,000.
But that sum is well shy of the £660,000 needed to restore the fountain – now a crumbling eyesore – to its former glory.
Instead, council bosses hope to gleam extra cash from Historic Scotland Heritage Lottery Fund and are in talks with both bodies in the hope of coming up with the money for the refurbishment work.
The plan to use the cash from the Fountain Gardens Endowment Fund was voted through at Monday’s meeting of the council’s General Management and Finance Policy Board, along with a similar plan to breath new life into the Ferguslie Gardens – also donated to the town by the Coats family – by using the £20,000 contained in the Ferguslie Gardens Endowment Fund.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren, who has backed both projects, said: “Rather than let these funds continue to gather dust, it is a good idea to maximise the use we can get from any funding available to improve both Ferguslie and Fountain Gardens.
“Ferguslie Gardens was the venue used for the last Paisley West Fair in 2010 and is the proposed venue for the 2012 Paisley West Fair, this work will help to improve the gardens and make it more attractive to visitors.
“I have been in discussion with the environmental services department to look at ways of maximising the use of these funds, to ensure that as much work as possible can be carried out in both Ferguslie and Fountain Gardens.
“The restoration of the grand fountain in the gardens is something that has been on the agenda for a number of years, and is a common issue raised at the local community council.
“Previously, I provided the community council with the full research report on the restoration of the fountain, which as well as highlighting the costs, also provided an excellent history of the fountain.
“The fountain forms the major focal point within the gardens and restoring it would be a great boost to the Fountain Gardens, enhancing the experience of any visitors to the area.”
Restorations plans include dismantling the fountain and taking it to a conservation workshop where its metal work would be given the once over.
New lighting, electrical cables, water pipes and underground storage tanks would all be installed before the fountain was returned to the park.
The fountain’s survival hopes have also been boosted by a group set up by Councillor Mike Dillon and local tenants groups.
The Friends of the Fountain Gardens hope to raise cash themselves and Councillor Dillon welcomed the council’s latest efforts to redevelop the famous recreation space.
He said: “I’m sure everyone with an interest in seeing the Fountain Gardens restored to how it once was will be delighted to see these additional funds released. It’s good to see the council taking this issue seriously.”