Ground broken for downtown fountain

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

City leaders on Wednesday broke ground for a fountain that honors the late Suffolk peanut magnate, Amedeo Obici, and his Italian heritage.

About a dozen city representatives, mostly City Council and Sister Cities Commission members, braved afternoon showers Wednesday for the ceremony that kicks off construction of a $50,000 fountain that will link Suffolk with her sister city, Oderzo, Italy. Obici, founder of Planters Peanuts, was a native of that city.

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A Virginia Beach-based company that specializes fountain construction will begin working on the Obici-Oderzo Fountain in the Mills E. Godwin Courts Complex Courtyard within the next two weeks, said Gerry Jones, director of capital program management. The project will be finished within 45 days, in time for a formal dedication in late August that will be attended by a group from Oderzo.

The fountain’s star feature is a 7-foot wall inlaid with hand-cut and hand-painted mosaic tiles and brass inlays shaped like Italy. Water will cascade over the wall into a white marble pool.

Oderzo is donating the mosaic tiles.

The fountain was designed by Paolo Rosso, an Oderzo architect, whose design was selected through a competition that the Sister Cities Commission sponsored in Italy two years ago. Rosso’s award is the opportunity to come to Suffolk with the Oderzo delegation in August.

Fran Alwood, former chairwoman of the Sister Cities Commission, said she was thrilled to see the project finally under way.

&uot;We (Suffolk and Oderzo) are cementing our relationship with a fountain,&uot; Alwood said. &uot;I tell people this is going to be Suffolk’s Norwegian Lady.

&uot;It’s going to be one of the city’s greatest tourist attractions.&uot;

It’s just the beginning of the city relationship with its Italian counterpart, said Mary Jane Naismith, chairwoman of the organization. In years to come, she expects the two cities will participate in a surplus of projects.

Mayor E. Dana Dickens III said he hope the relationship would also reflect in economic development efforts.

The Sister Cities Commission has spent the past three years raising money for the project, Naismith said. The city kicked in approximately $20,000 for the project.

Three major donors – Obici Hospital, Kraft Foods’ Planters division, and Birdsong Peanuts – chipped in a total of $17,000.