A bald eagle perches on top of the whale statue at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on May 26, 2020. The pump rooms for the whale have been repaired after being damaged by flooding last October, but they will remain turned off for now to save costs and discourage gatherings. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

A bald eagle perches on top of the whale statue at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on May 26, 2020. The pump rooms for the whale have been repaired after being damaged by flooding last October, but they will remain turned off for now to save costs and discourage gatherings. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Thar she doesn’t blow: Whale statue all fixed up, but will remain off for now

Cost-saving and crowd-prevention will keep the statue quiet for now.

The whale statue in Mayor Bill Overstreet Park is all fixed after heavy rains damaged the pump room last year, but it’ll remain turned off for now, said a City and Borough of Juneau Parks and Recreation official.

“One reason is to save on some costs this summer,” said Parks and Recreation deputy director Michelle Elfers in a phone interview. “Also, not to encourage large social gatherings.”

Once the pond was tested over the weekend to check the functionality of the newly repaired pumps, the water was drained again. Elfers said she was unsure of the total of savings that may be realized by keeping the statue’s pumps off.

“It’s in a quasi-winterized state,” Elfers said. “It’s being drained so the pumps aren’t running.”

A bald eagle takes off from the top of the whale statue at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on May 26, 2020. The pump rooms for the whale have been repaired after being damaged by flooding last October, but will remain turned off for now to save costs and discourage gatherings.(Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

A bald eagle takes off from the top of the whale statue at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on May 26, 2020. The pump rooms for the whale have been repaired after being damaged by flooding last October, but will remain turned off for now to save costs and discourage gatherings. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

The whale could be restarted with relative ease, Elfers said, if circumstances later in the summer allow for the statue to be turned back on.

The pump room was flooded during heavy rains in October, backing up a sewage line and damaging the electrical equipment with a tide of wastewater. Member’s of Juneau’s engineering department worked on repairing the damage over the winter, Elfers said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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