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Water flows once again at Hacienda hotel fountain

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NEW PORT RICHEY - Residents can gush with more praise for Hacienda hotel restoration efforts now that the courtyard fountain is operating again.City crews have completed the plumbing work needed to pipe water to the fountain for the first time in many years, Public Works Director Sherman Applegate told the city council Tuesday night.Recycled water tumbles down from the top of the fountain around its clock. Spotlights on the fountain make the water sparkle even more at night.Applegate has heard rumors that a fountainhead top is still stashed away somewhere, so the hunt has begun for the decorative piece."There's a lot of interest" to have the Hacienda open in time for Chasco Fiesta in March 2014, former Councilman Rob Marlowe testified at a June city council meeting. Tours of the historic landmark at Main and Bank streets would certainly impress visitors, officials here believe.Reopening of the hotel remains an elusive goal, however. Grants might not become available until after July 2014. An online pledge drive was extended by a few months to early August.Money is still needed for engineering analysis and any major, structural repairs, council members emphasized. A crowd packed a March city council workshop to suggest ideas for new uses for the Hacienda once it's ready to reopen. Most people suggested reopening the ballroom and renting the space for large parties, proms or wedding receptions.Completed in 1927, the Spanish-style luxury hotel attracted silent screen stars such as Thomas Meighan and Gloria Swanson, according to a description on the online crowd-funding platform Citizinvestor. The intention was to create the "Hollywood of the East" in New Port Richey.On Oct. 24, 1996, the Hacienda Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places.In 2004, the city bought the hotel at the height of the real estate boom and has struggled ever since to find a willing buyer to restore it. So last year city officials decided upon community involvement instead.

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