IA Water Tower Design ‘Tentatively’ Approved


A paint scheme for a new water tower in Sheldon, Iowa, has been tentatively approved by the city’s council, moving the project forward again since its initial proposal nearly six years ago. The news arrives just months after city officials expressed concern over how they planned to fund the project amidst recent inflation.

Project Costs, Concerns

The new water tower was first proposed back in 2016, planned for the northeast corner at Country Club Road and 16th Street.

In October last year, the Sheldon City Council announced that it would use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds for the tower, which was estimated to cost around $3.5 million. In total, the city is receiving $757,338.25 through the funding.

The project was expected to be able to use tax increment financing fund, but the money from the ARP would reportedly allow the city to stretch the bond fund further.

In June this year, the council met to discuss additional financing ideas for the water tower. Reports note that finances had changed since its first proposal, with inflation and interest rates causing some concerns with the price tag for the water tower.

The original plan indicated to pay off the water tower with an 18-year capital loan note. However, at a meeting that month, City Manager Sam Kooiker suggested that a 10-year note would be more beneficial. As of May, the total project cost for the water tower was $3,643,410. A 10-year note, as opposed to an 18-year note, would be for $3.5 million.

In a memo to the council, Kooiker and Sheldon Public Works Director Todd Uhl advised the council not to delay the water tower project for three reasons:

  • The ongoing rising inflation;
  • The flood of water projects expected nationally due to American Rescue Plan funds; and
  • The need for the tower for water and fire flows to benefit the industrial and commercial areas on Sheldon’s east side.

“To lock in at the lower interest rates, I think any good business will do that,” said councilman Brad Hindt. “I’d say, ‘Get the wheels moving.’”

“I want to get this job on the market, and I went to get it off the market as soon as we possibly can,” Uhl said. “As a staff, we need to make sure we’re doing the right things to put you in the right position. There’s just a couple of minor things that I’m not prepared to comment on right now that will come to light soon.”

Paint Scheme Approval

On Aug. 3, the Sheldon City Council tentatively approved the water tower paint job. Teri Elgersma, a member of the committee selected to discuss the issue, addressed the council, noting that in addition to the name of the community in a stylized font, they also have chosen some scenes to be painted on the tower.

Elgersma also presented a video of a simulated “fly-by” of the water tower design. She said that they went with some “fairly obvious colors,” as orange and black are the local school district’s colors

The council then voted to use the “design as presented, subject to minute changes, but the design will be the approved representative spec.” The water tower “may or may not” have the shape represented in the design scheme.

Additionally, paperwork in regard to the capital loan note for $3.5 million was to be discussed and decided whether to approve the preliminary official statement. The notes would be “for essential corporate purposes, to provide funds to pay the costs of aiding in the planning, undertaking, and carrying out of urban renewal projects including the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair and equipping of the East Side Water Tower.”

Other Recent Water Tower Work

At the beginning of last month, it was reported that work was been delayed for the repainting on a water tower in Perrysburg, Ohio, after contractors used the wrong color paint and the wrong logo stencil. The elevated water tank is being repainted after a routine inspection in January 2020 found corrosion that needed to be removed.

The decision to maintain the water tank’s original design, which features silhouettes of families and the city’s name, also sparked controversy after racist jokes reportedly circulated on social media about the color of the artwork.

In November, the council approved a $438,725 contract with Seven Brothers Painting Inc. In total, $800,000 had been budgeted for the project. The council also approved spending up to an additional $55,000 for new rebranding and paint colors.

However, according to reports, Seven Brothers Painting bought black paint, as opposed to the updated blue color, and used the old stencil for the city’s name on the tank. The error has since been painted over.

During original council discussions, the contractor reportedly estimated a cost of $300 per gallon for the paint. The cost to paint the silhouettes had amounted to $47,000, out of an originally projected $55,000.

City officials noticed the error when performing a routine progress check as painting began on June 30. The error has since been repainted over, but officials confirm that the information sent to the contractor was correct.

Work is expected to resume once the new paint color arrives, anticipated to arrive within 10 days. The contractor will then finish the lettering and silhouettes. Afterwards, it will take two to three days to fill the tower, in addition to testing to confirm efficacy of the water.

The original plan anticipated the project to be completed before summer. However, the new estimated date for finishing the project has been pushed back at least two weeks.

Later that month, repainting and repairs were being completed on a water tower in Albion, Indiana, after nearly two months of work. The $333,400 project is being completed by The George Kountoupes Painting Company (Lincoln Park, Michigan).

Originally built in the 1970s, the water tower has been repainted twice since it was first constructed. The initial coat of paint contained lead, so the contractor had to strip the 300,000-gallon water tower and then collect all the paint due to environmental regulations. Once that paint was collected, the water tower was then repainted.

Four coats of fresh paint were applied to the structure for the project. In total, approximately 300 gallons of paint were used. Additional repairs and upgrades were completed on the tower, including the construction of stairs inside of the tower. A catwalk with railing was also installed along the exterior of the tank.

Once renovations are complete, two rounds of tests on the water will be completed to ensure it is safe prior to refilling the tank.


Tagged categories: Color; Color + Design; Design; Funding; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Tank exteriors; Tanks; Tanks; Upcoming projects; Water Tanks

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