City Votes to Demolish Historic NC Water Tower


The future of Loray Mill, North Carolina’s historic water tank has been decided: Earlier this month, Gastonia leaders voted to have the structure demolished, an act that comes with a $225,000 price tag. Officials did emphasize there will be an effort to investigate different ways of preserving the structure’s legacy.

The town’s ownership of the tank, originally built in 1929, dates to 1935. The structure stands on less than half an acre and is valued at $452,625, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Demolition Decision-Making

The tank has some structural issues that need to be addressed, and pairing this with recurring costs associated with stabilizing the structure, even the possibility of putting the tank back into operation, did not seem prudent spending to city leaders because many of these options would kickstart both immediate and recurring maintenance expenses. Concerns were first raised in 2016, though the city did not take any action at that time.

The city originally had three options:

  • Repair and repainting, estimated to cost $475,000: The tower would be left out of service, with only the aesthetics being improved. Its height makes it too low to be used as a pressure source by Two Rivers Utilities;
  • Repair, repaint and restore, estimated to cost $725,000: This would require the installation of a booster pump station to allow for water turnover and ensuring water quality, a study to determine the hydraulic impact of the water system on residents would also be required and painting would have to recur once every 10 years; and
  • Demolition and removal, estimated to cost $225,000: Using this option, the city could recycle and sell the steel from the demolition, and once the tower was taken down, the vacant real estate would likely be donated to a nonprofit like Preservation North Carolina, which is seeking to revitalize the village.

Earlier this month, City Council voted unanimously to have the water tank torn down. The cost of the demolition would be higher than the $225,000 estimation, but that number includes recouping costs from recycling and selling off the tower’s steel.

Commemorating the Past

Other recent ideas also included salvaging a part of the steel tower and using it in the future Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment District, though Councilmember Dave Kirlin said that emphasizing preservation to a demolition crew could make the process more difficult. Whatever is salvaged may not be appropriate to use in art.

Local artist Curt Butler also stepped forward, however, with the idea to paint the tower as a piece of art, and submitting that to display in hang in the mill’s museum. Kirlin added that if the artist agrees, the image could also be used in postcards or something similar to commemorate the tower’s legacy.

“There are all kinds of ways it could be profitable rather than just an actual piece of metal being salvaged,” Kirlin said.

Editor's Note: The description of the tower's height was changed on Feb. 8, 2019, at 10:29 a.m.


Tagged categories: Demolition; Historic Structures; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Water Tanks

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