The Court Square fountain is sporting a new look. Its lights have been replaced with a digital system that allows a wide variety of colors.
“We now have the ability to do a lot of color combinations,” said Hank Patton, the city’s landscape manager. “Right now, it’s blue, green and yellow. We have three colors going in there right now. We call it our spring theme. We can do more than that, but right now it’s set up to do three colors. It really does look good.”
About two years ago, the city began looking at ways to make the lights different colors to fit the season, holiday or nationally recognized months, such as blue for Child Abuse Awareness Month or pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“The effort to do this started a couple years go,” said Patton. “Everyone wanted to do a theme with the color of the fountain. We did research on our existing lights on what we could and couldn’t do. We could change the lens in the 120-volt lights we had. There are 12 lights in all. We could change the lens every time we wanted to change a color theme but that required us to change the gaskets. You had to buy all the lenses and it was very cost-prohibitive. It was very expensive to do that.”
Technology finally caught up with what the city wanted. At the beginning of this year, a digital LED light system that could do a variety of colors came on the market in California.
“It came to us in February,” said Patton. “It took about a year and a half from the time we knew we wanted to do something until we were finally able to get it. It’s an LED system and it’s a computerized system. Basically, each light has its own brain in it. It gives us the ability to do different things with the lights. It’s a very sophisticated system, but it’s not an outrageous expense.”
Including the lights, the whole system was just under $2,500.
Patton added, “I know $2,500 sounds like a lot but consider it cost us $600 to change the bulbs out in the other lights. We had to change them out every year and a half. These are LED bulbs so they will last a lot longer. Plus, using LEDs is going to save us on electricity. The system will probably pay for itself in a couple of years.”
Because the system is new and Patton was quick to discover it, McMinnville is the first outside the state of California to install it.
“It’s brand new to the market and we are the only ones in the Eastern part of the United States that have the system. No one else has put the system in yet, as of two weeks ago,” said Patton.