CHIPLEY — The water tower that has been a Chipley landmark for the better part of a century needs to be demolished.
The Chipley City Council declared the state of the water tower an emergency Thursday in a special meeting and set in motion the process of demolishing the water tower.
The water tower, which has stood at the corner of U.S. 90 and Highway 77 since the 1930s, has a bent leg and the top of the tower is loose due to the clamps rusting away, water tower expert Jim Morris told the council.
“In my opinion, the water tower is way too far gone to paint,” Morris said. “And I don’t think the city wants to spend the money it will need to spend to bring it up to today’s standards.”
Morris estimated that the tower would need a minimum of $175,000 in repairs to bring it up to code.
He had been asked by the council to give an estimate for repainting the tower, but the condition of the tower was too dangerous for his employees to climb, Morris said.
The tower also has a base coat of lead primer, which would have to be handled with a lead abatement program, Morris said.
City Administrator Dan Miner noted that the water tower had been deemed unsafe 25 years ago. “One of the legs is bent,” he said.
If the city had the $200,000 to spend on repairs, it would still cost $5,000 or more per year for maintenance on the tower, Miner added.
Morris estimated the cost of demolishing the water tower at $24,000.
The company Morris recommended specializes in demolishing water towers and the job would take 1-2 days, he said.
“If it puts our citizens at risk, we have to take it down,” said Council member Karen Rustin.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it is going to fall down tomorrow or the next day, but it is going to happen,” Morris said. “I hate to see it go, but it is time to pull the plug.”