Group rallies to protect Princeville fountain

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Water flows around King Neptune’s statue in Princeville on Thursday.

PRINCEVILLE — Neptune rises out of the water, guarding the entrance to Princeville in an iconic, 200-ton fountain. And now there’s a group of residents rallying to preserve the marble god of the sea.

The group, “Friends of the Fountain,” was formed by community members including Leonard and Ellene Grace, and arose because some say it is too expensive to maintain.

“Some have voiced destroying the fountain,” Ellene Grace said. “We’re passionate about the fountain. It doesn’t seem like Princeville if the fountain isn’t there.”

Right now, Neptune is minus the trident he uses to rule the sea. That’s been stolen twice from the fountain since installation in 1991.

There are also a few cracks in the foundation, and other repairs are needed, and “Friends of the Fountain” is ready to take on the project.

The group has had two meetings — one in November and one Jan. 5. It started with a handful of residents and has grown to more than 20 people.

“Our objective and passion is to preserve the fountain as part of Princeville,” Ellene Grace said.

Former Princeville Mirage resort owner Christopher Skase commissioned the fountain while on vacation at a hotel in Cliveden, England in the late 1980s, inspired by the fountain owned by the Viscounts Astor.

That hotel, which was home of several of the English royalty over the years, is now under the care of the National Trust in Buckinghamshire.

After seeing Lady Astor’s fountain, Skase commissioned a fountain for his hotel — an exact replica of the Cliveden fountain, except bigger.

It took a year for 12 Italian artisans to create the 200-ton fountain, chopped out of a 900-ton block of marble. That was cut into 200 pieces and shipped to Kauai in 11 containers.

Four of those Italian craftsmen met the fountain on-island and took another four months to install the fountain. At the end of installation in 1991, the total cost of the fountain was $1 million.

In 2010, the deed to the fountain was transferred to the Princeville 2 Homeowners Association, which spends about $275,000 a year to maintain it, according to HOA records.

Area hotels and resorts also help pay to keep the fountain in working order, including keeping the lights on every night to illuminate Neptune.

Alongside being passionate about the fountain, the Graces have a 40-year history of operating a waterproofing and restoration company in San Francisco.

They’ve taken a look at the fountain with Friends of the Fountain board president Don Cunningham and outlined restoration needs for the structure, with costs coming in at roughly $20,000.

Needed repairs include about 140 lineal feet of cracks that need to be injected with epoxy, a careful pressure-wash of the entire fountain, and a full epoxy coat to protect the fountain.

So far, Friends of the Fountain has received an anonymous donation of $10,000 toward the project, and Leonard Grace has volunteered to donate $12,700 worth of labor and materials to finish the epoxy piece of the work.

Neptune also needs his trident back.

“We are searching for an artist to complete that repair,” Ellene Grace said.

The group is also considering ways to install cameras or an alarm system to discourage fountain vandalism, and advocates an entire evaluation of the pumps and chlorine injection systems.

Ellene and Leonard Grace have already tried registering the fountain as a historical monument, but it’s not old enough to fit the bill.

“It’s certainly significant enough,” Ellene Grace said.

Friends of the Fountain is gearing up for another meeting in March, though the exact date hasn’t yet been set.

For more information or to join Friends of the Fountain, email sunset.ellenegrace@att.net.

•••

Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

22 Comments
  1. Neal Raj Mathur January 19, 2020 3:59 am Reply

    nothing says Hawaii like King Neptune…or I should say nothing says the occupation of Hawaii like a marble fountain of a European God.


  2. Thinkkauai January 19, 2020 9:56 am Reply

    It hasn’t even been there for 30 years and they want to say it’s historical?? What in the? They truly do live in a different world up there in Princeville eh. I say if they want to pay for it go ahead, but NO county or state funds should be allocated to that out of place non historical non cultural piece of stone.


    1. Ellene Grace January 31, 2020 10:36 am Reply

      We researched if it was old enough for historical and found out it has to be50 years old. We will never use county funds for restoring or maintaining the fountain. We do live in the right world.


  3. KimoKane January 19, 2020 10:28 am Reply

    Save a one million dollar marble fountain for $20,000. Yes keep it… fix it… What they gonna do, sell it and fill some pots holes? or fill some pockets? Make it nicer. Just put up a plastic trident covered in marble paint, no body will know the difference and cheap to replace if somebody steals it again. Make Foodland pay for it, they probably make $20 grand in 20 minutes. Put some laser lights on it. And some of those fountains should create a fine mist so almost looks like the fountain is floating and it would hide the ugly garden hose kine spray that’s going on now. And $275,000 annual maintenance? Can somebody explain this? Seems excessive.


    1. Ellene Grace January 31, 2020 10:25 am Reply

      Just the fountain by itself costs homeowners in Princeville2 only $3.87 per month. The $275K is for the entire entrance to Princeville, roads, road from Kuhio highway to passed the fountain, water, power, garden maintenance, all other costs that come up.
      Repairs of the cracks will begin the third week of February. The repairs are donated. A local artist is making a new trident.


    2. Ellene Grace January 31, 2020 10:39 am Reply

      The 275K is for the entire princeville entrance. Including the road from Kuhio highway to passed the fountain, power, water, lawns and gardens, maintenance. The fountain alone is only $3.87 per Princeville2 homeowner per month.


  4. #beepthefountain January 19, 2020 12:21 pm Reply

    Taking this article’s info for face value raises a couple questions: what interest do the Grace’s really have in starting a group to ‘save the fountain’? How much of $275,000 annual maintenance cost have they received over the years, considering they are in the waterproofing business? The article states the cost for repairs “comes in at around $20,000 but the donations ($10,000 + $12,700 in labor donated) already exceeds the estimate. Something seems fishy???

    Can no one else think of a better way to spend $275,000 ever year?


    1. Ellene Grace January 31, 2020 10:31 am Reply

      Graces have never done any work on the fountain or Kauai. It’s our love of the fountain that we are bringing our experts and product to Kauai to repair the cracks. We have had additional donations to help restore the fountain.


    2. Laeilakalani February 20, 2020 9:44 pm Reply

      The Princeville Resort is offering $250,000 to remove the fountain, an opportunity too good to let go by.


  5. Kauai Traveler January 19, 2020 1:29 pm Reply

    This is a topic that has puzzled me from the first time I entered Princeville.

    It may have cost a million dollars and still costs a small fortune to maintain but a fountain and statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea and horse racing, seems ill-suited to a Kaua’i resort area. To me it’s spending good money after bad. With all the maintenance issues plaguing Princeville 2, I would think there are more productive uses for the $2.7 million in funds spent over the past 10 years.

    The first time I saw it I couldn’t believe a tropical resort would choose a European mythical god over a Hawaiian deity or royal, especially after choosing a place name that alludes to a Hawaiian prince. I can stretch my imagination to accept the symbolism of the scallop rarity in Kaua’i waters. I understand the dolphins. The rest just makes no sense to me.

    Princeville Center is decaying before our eyes. The back side is rotting away. The paving is third world quality holes and bad patching where repairs have happened. There’s such a shortage of parking that half the time there’s no place to park when I go to Foodland or the post office, not to mention Ace or the General Store.

    As an added point, can someone please explain that empty little building that sits at the Princeville entrance. It isn’t a guard house, because there is no guard. It isn’t an information station. I requires maintenance as well, but seems to have no function.

    Take a good look at Princeville’s entrance and commercial area. Then go to Poipu and look around. Note the difference in maintenance and consider the use of funds.


    1. Sharilyn Westworth January 20, 2020 12:43 pm Reply

      I agree with you on this issue. It was grand and beautiful when new but definitely out of place. There are far more important issues that need addressing


  6. harry oyama January 19, 2020 2:37 pm Reply

    Most of these posting are from cry babies complaining the foundation should have some Hawaiian deity or royal, when in fact those Ali’i were too busy fighting and killing off their own kind like barbarians and should not even be considered to be honored.

    As for the HOA, I’ve been a board executive member for over 4 years and noticed how corrupt it is, how they often pad expenses and get kickbacks from contractors who are cronies. It is where many of your politicians start off, getting a taste of corruption money and later getting a much bigger piece of the pie in public service.

    As for this foundation, if private and not public funds are involved, then go ahead and restore it. Better yet go and install those Roman public bath houses so that your local politicians can have wild swapping swinger orgies in it and to lure those nude bathing tourists from Maui’s secret beach to partake. Make it an extension of Espein’s fantasy island so Billy Clinton and his friends can also partake.


  7. Bernard January 19, 2020 2:40 pm Reply

    I agree with my fellow commenters. Marble does not belong on the Island and a lot more good can be done with the money needed to clean and power this monstrosity. A year or two ago, two upfront fountains were replaced by a great modern yet authentic wall design and appropriate landscaping. This is the future. Princeville desperately needs to re-invent itself if it does not want to end up like just another California suburb on a dying golf course…


  8. truth be known January 19, 2020 4:11 pm Reply

    The French said the same thing about the Eiffel Tower. Big ugly chunk of iron. Doesn’t match the French architecture, etc, etc. Now people consider it a work of art, an essential part of the Parisian landscape.
    This fountain has defined the Princeville entrance since 1991 and it makes an impressive statement that Princeville is not just some run of the mill neighborhood but a special place. The $275,000 annual maintenance fee needs some scrutiny though. Perhaps TGI could investigate.


    1. Kauai Traveler January 19, 2020 9:22 pm Reply

      truth be known – Your comparison of 40+ year old “inspired by Lady Astor’s Fountain of Love” Princeville fountain over the 1889 French designed and engineered World Heritage site Eiffel Tower doesn’t convince me.


  9. demolition derby January 19, 2020 8:58 pm Reply

    never understood that ridiculous fountain , just demo that piece of junk and get on with it


  10. andy January 19, 2020 9:14 pm Reply

    Regardless of the subject of this article: are Harry Oyama’s comments actually serious?


  11. Robert Frisbie January 20, 2020 7:34 am Reply

    Historical or not? It doesn’t matter, it is beautiful and bring’s much more elegant character to the area of Princeville. Plus, everytime my wife and I stay in the area, like Chevy Chase in European Vacation, I take an extra trip around the fountain to see all of its glory.

    It is awesome, a huge endeaver to create, and ireplaceable; so why create-waste and rid something so beautiful?


  12. Ellene Grace January 31, 2020 10:20 am Reply

    Just the fountain by itself costs homeowners in Princeville2 only $3.87 per month. The $275K is for the entire entrance to Princeville, roads, road from Kuhio highway to passed the fountain, water, power, garden maintenance, all other costs that come up.
    Repairs of the cracks will begin the third week of February. The repairs are donated. A local artist is making a new trident.


    1. Laeilakalani February 11, 2020 3:30 pm Reply

      Agree


  13. Laeilakalani February 11, 2020 3:04 pm Reply

    I agree with you. I consider the Neptune fountain more of a Greek God.


  14. eli June 21, 2020 7:23 am Reply

    This statue has always been a sickening symbol of imperialism on Kauai.


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