It’s time for a Clock Tower fix

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It’s about time. Thanks to the efforts of the Downtown Business Association, Citizens Bank and notable donors such as longtime Auburn benefactor Norma Harris, a community fund-raising effort is under way to fix the faulty chimes of the Clock Tower. The hourly and quarter-hour bells have been out of sorts for months, and while Downtown businessman Ben Asgharzadeh deserves thanks for keeping the clock functioning with a legacy software system, it will take money and leadership to fix the system and ensure the clock and chimes sync up for years to come. The best solution is a long-term fix. Now is the time for business interests, city of Auburn and other interested parties to come together on a plan to preserve the accuracy and structural integrity of the iconic tower. According to Asgharzadeh, the clock’s 20-year-old software just isn’t capable of handling the stress of weather, Father Time and changes to Daylight Savings Time. Upgrading the current software could cost $8,000 to $10,000. That might seem like a lot of money for bells that ring every 15 minutes, punctuated every hour by the hourly chimes. But the landmark clock was built with the hands of volunteers, fueled by the donations of businesses, banks and other prominent community members. More than 750 fund-raising bricks form the foundation for the clock. This is a true Auburn attraction that should be preserved. Harris, whose Auburn Iron Works helped construct the tower, has pledged $1,000 to the cause. Other donations have been coming to Citizens Bank, located next to the tower, but more money is needed. How about local service clubs passing the hat at meetings? What if school offices, which open today, have a canister at the front desk promoting “Coins for the Clock.” What if the original donors and brick-buyers gave a second time? The funds would not only fix the chimes, but provide for a scheduled maintenance program. If there’s money left over, maybe it can go toward amenities to the clock plaza, or provide for additional public art. The Clock Tower sits at the crossroads of Downtown Auburn. It is a prime spot for meeting someone or watching one of the many holiday parades. This Saturday night, it will be filled with Black & White Ball-goers wanting to rest before rejoining the dancing and party atmosphere. And when the city’s “Streetscape” project provides Downtown and Old Town with an image makeover in the coming years, it will be the beacon connecting both business districts. The time is right –– to make the time right.