The fountain at Rogers Plaza in downtown Conway was hit again this week.
Photos captured by passersby made it to Facebook on Tuesday showcasing many a soap sud bubbling over the top into the fountain bowl encompassed with mountains of white thanks to vandals who snuck in the additions to the plain water.
“Guess it needed cleaned,” one user posted. “It’s funny and all but it’s bad on the pumps and cost the [c]ity and employees time to clean it up. Pretty brave to try it, there are cameras on the plaza.”
The Log Cabin Democrat reached out to Bobby M. Kelly, city communication coordinator, one of many who didn’t find it funny.
Initially, he called the act vandalism, but after speaking with city attorney Chuck Clauson, changed his mind.
“It would be criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor,” Kelly said. “If we catch you on camera, then we will pursue charges.”
Kelly said the fountain gets souped anywhere between six to eight times per year.
“It’s a complete waste of our time and taxpayer dollars,” he said.
As to how hard it is to clean the mess up, Kelly said the process can take up to two days.
They have to:
1. Drain hundreds of gallons of soapy water.
2. Replace the water filter.
3. Pressure wash the soap/detergent residue.
4. Replace the fountain with fresh water.
It is difficult and time consuming,” Kelly said.
The LCD also reached out to University of Central Arkansas Director of Media Relations Amanda Hoelzeman regarding the campus fountain, as well, who spoke with associate vice president for facilities Larry Lawrence.
“The fountain in Harding Centennial Plaza gets vandalized with soap on average once or twice a year,” Lawrence said.
Like the fountain at Rogers Plaza, Hoelzeman added UCA’s also has eyes on it.
“It has not been vandalized in at least a year, and it should be noted that it is visible from nearby security cameras,” she said.
Hoelzeman said they consider it vandalism as well.
“It takes employee time to skim the suds, in some instances, partially drain the fountain in order to make it operational again,” she said. “The soap also causes damage to the equipment.”
Soaping pranks have cost some
Landscaping and lawn-care company, The Grounds Guys, also had something to say about the soapy act and offered advice to help protect both private and public fountains.
“Soaping ... it’s a prank as old as toilet papering someone’s house, but it can be even more destructive,” the company’s website reads. “It’s when a prankster dumps laundry detergent, shampoo or dish soap into a fountain so the churning water produces suds.
“Soaping may sound like harmless fun – a way to turn a public water feature into a giant bubble bath for a day – but the vandalism can result in expensive cleanup and have a lasting impact on the fountain. If you’ve been soaped, The Grounds Guys offers you some tips for cleaning up the mess and how to protect your fountain against future pranks.”
Drain and rinse the fountain: Get as much soap out of the water as you can by draining it completely. Refill it and drain it again to rinse more suds from the fountain.
Add anti-foaming agents: Cleaning a soaped fountain is not as simple as pumping water out and replacing it. Residual soap will continue to foam until you add a nontoxic anti-foaming agent to the water.
Replace the filters: They’re probably all gummed up from the soap and need to be replaced, possibly even multiple times during the cleanup process, depending on the size of the fountain and how much soap the vandal added.
Restore the proper chemical balance: To restore the fountain to its former glory, add the proper chemicals to thwart algae growth.