From pipes and computers to lights, the Grand Haven Musical Fountain has seen all sorts of improvements in the past few years.
The next improvement city officials will have completed is the installation of new choreography software for the fountain.
City officials recently approved a $19,750 contract with Apex Controls Inc. to develop the new software.
“That software enables anybody in the public to program a show for the fountain, submit it to our website — and, if it meets our criteria, it will be integrated into our song list for the fountain,” Grand Haven Facilities Manager Dan Vivian said. “We currently don’t have any way to do that.”
Vivian noted that there was software designed 10-15 years ago that allowed people to program for the fountain, but it has become obsolete.
“You can’t even download it on your computer anymore because it’s such an old piece of technology,” he said.
In 2013, the city teamed with Grand Valley State University on a project to develop new choreography software. Although a lot of work had been done, officials say it is apparent that, due to the complexity of the software, full development will not be achieved through another GVSU Capstone group.
According to Vivian, the advantage of working with Apex Controls on the choreography software is that they are the same people who wrote the fountain playback software, and the city would have full ownership of the software, with backup held by the city and Apex.
This newest improvement would join a slew of fountain projects that have taken place in the past few years.
“It has been two and a half years since we met up on the hill and came up with a list of upgrades we wanted to work on,” Vivian said.
Last year, all of the old legacy lighting on the fountain was removed, and new LED lighting was purchased and installed. Earlier this year, new playback software was written and installed, and there are ongoing mechanical improvements being made.
“It’s a lot cleaner now with the new LED lights,” Vivian said. “We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from the quality of light these LEDs produce.”
According to Vivian, there are no more incandescent lights used on the fountain.
Ongoing projects include valve replacement and removal, he noted.
“One of the things the (Musical Fountain) Committee is looking into is a new audio system,” Vivian said. “The system up there is 20 years old. (The current system) is still very functional, but it’s getting harder to maintain and getting harder to find parts for. It takes it longer to get things rebuilt.”
City officials said the Musical Fountain Committee will research a variety of speaker options — from satellite speakers placed along the waterfront and downtown, to a system similar to the one in place.
“If we had a better-quality speaker system, you wouldn’t have to turn it up so loud to project it across the river,” Vivian said. “I think it would be a little bit clearer with better technology. Right now, we have a low range and a high range — we have no mid-range speakers.”
Mayor Geri McCaleb praised the work that’s been done to the fountain in recent years.
“This has really been a great investment to redo the Musical Fountain because I know there was a question of how important is it,” she said.
But the crowds and the results have shown that the reinvestment was worth it, McCaleb said.
“This has been a great investment to redo the Musical Fountain,” the mayor said.