A traditional, partly recycled fountain design for the end of California Avenue has gotten the most votes in an online advisory poll.
The fountain design by Jennifer Madden and Jeffrey Reed -- who designed the "Sun Flowers" sculpture down the street in front of Country Sun market -- received 213 votes in online voting.
A slender sculptural design by Michael Szabo came in second with 182 votes. Szabo was the previous winner in a public-art vote, for his "Arch Cradle" sculpture in Mitchell Park in 2007.
The third alternative for the fountain replacement, an abstract design by Mark Oldland, received just 24 votes.
But a close look at the results indicates that 52 of the votes for the Szabo fountain were from persons who identified themselves as from "outside Palo Alto," reducing the "inside Palo Alto" votes for Szabo to 130. Five outside voters were for the Reed/Madden fountain and four were for the Oldland proposal.
Some non-resident comments came from as far as the East Coast.
The deadline for voting was noon Tuesday (Jan. 18), and the online-voting totals were quickly made available on the city's website, www.cityofpaloalto.org. The Palo Alto Public Art Commission is scheduled to meet tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss the vote results and choose between the fountains.
The Madden and Reed fountain would reuse material and design elements from the current (no-longer operational) fountain, refurbished with additions such as seating around the rim and an inscribed quotation.
"I like that this proposal recycles the old fountain. This appeals to my sentimental side (as a long-time fan of the fountain) and seems to best reflect Palo Alto's efforts to green-ify. Plus, you can never go wrong with a Gandhi quote and the fountain-edge seating is a great idea," Palo Alto resident Rebecca Wrenn wrote in a comment field with her vote.
In addition to praising the design for keeping close to the current look and being a lower-cost option, some commented on their desire for the gushing fountain water -- not a sculptural element -- to take center stage.
"I like that it is similar to the old fountain and that the water is a very prominent feature of the design," Peter Stonestrom of Midtown wrote.
A fan of the Szabo design favored its modern look.
"Palo Alto is in a perpetual change. It is a modern city turned toward the future, and creativity. So a modern design seems to be a good choice for a fountain. The fluidity and the movement of the design is a good reflection of the ever-changing environment of Palo Alto," Cecile Eltherington of Greenmeadow wrote.
One East Coast resident, Leon Hovanesian of Rhode Island, wrote that Szabo's proposal "showcases this city's emphasis on culture and art by giving California Ave. a presence that is both aesthetically beautiful and artistically dynamic." Hovanesian said he is with the Rhode Island School of Designand travels often to Palo Alto to recruit art students.
The Oldland design had a few fans.
"I liked the playfulness of this and the idea that metal would reflect the sky and weather conditions," Midtown resident Nicole Heller wrote.
The public comments can be viewed at Open City Hall.