August 20, 2014 at 3:21 AM
Survey says … a white tower, with a dark blue stripe with the Lansdale Borough logo and slogan in white should be the new color scheme for North Penn Water Authority’s Lansdale water tower repainting next year.
With 536 out of 935 responses – or 56.1 percent of the vote – the color scheme was the best out of four choices.
The borough Communication Commission and Economic Development Committee agreed Monday night – the joint committees recommended borough council approve the new look at its Wednesday night session.
“(It’s) the clear winner,” said Lansdale Borough Manager Timi Kirchner Monday night.
Kirchner said she and NPWA Executive Director Tony Bellitto discussed years ago the “ugly tower,” and how the water authority will pay for the $2 million refurbishment, inside and out. Work is expected to begin Spring 2015.
“We’re excited about it. It will be the centerpiece of the borough,” Bellitto said.
Kirchner gave a lot of credit to Communications Manager Tracy Flynn for working alongside NPWA and its consultant, Christine Gunsaullus, director of technical services at civil engineering firm Mumford-Bjorkman Associates.
“It’s a real tribute to NPWA – they do follow through and are good for their word,” Kirchner said. “It’s a $2 million project, all paid by NPWA. They gave Lansdale the option to take one side of the tower, and we chose to take the side facing into Lansdale.”
By this time next year, NPWA and Lansdale Borough will be preparing to reveal the new paint job, which is a project that began in May. The NPWA logo will be painted on the opposite side of the tower.
The last paint job was about 60 years ago, when the tower was constructed in the mid-1950s along W. Third Street/Richardson Avenue.
“The existing color is light blue. What’s proposed is white. It gives a nice contrast to the dark blue stripe around it,” Bellitto told the committees Monday night. “It’s a very nice presentation.”
Bellitto said the fact that 56 percent voted in the survey shows “an overwhelming majority” thought white and dark blue was the best choice.
“We appreciate your assistance in making this a thorough process, so everybody has the opportunity for input,” he said.
One important facet of next year’s repainting – making sure the letter sizes are just right so that words can be seen from a distance.
“Although it’s nice on paper,” Bellitto said, “we have to make sure it looks nice in the real world when it’s actually done … It’s about proportionality.”
Thus, a test-run for letter size will be done prior to the project in a few months, to ensure proper visibility on the tower.
“It’s critical to make sure the size of the logo, especially the Lansdale one, is visible,” Gunsaullus said. “One idea was getting a painter to go out and paint the smaller verbiage across the bottom. Then, go to Molly Maguire’s and grab a beer and make sure you can read it from that far.”
Bellitto said the water authority will put out a contract for bid this autumn, which will include any specifics on the paint job.
“A project like this has a lot of lead time. It’s very weather-dependent,” Bellitto said. “We need to get a contractor on board by the end of fall to allow several months to get work progress planned out, and begin work in the spring when the weather breaks.”
Bellitto said the project should take three or four months to finish.
“We hope by this time next year to be all completed,” he said.
The water tank will be drained completely, inspected for faults inside and outside, and then refurbished and repainted inside and outside.
“The tower will be emptied for the first time in decades,” Bellitto said. “Because of its location, it is a critical part of our system. We can’t go without it.”
A new 3-million-gallon water tank on Township Line Road in Franconia Township is nearing completion. Once it is in service, then NPWA can drain the Lansdale tower and switch users to the new Franconia Township one, Bellitto said.
Throughout refurbishment, the water tower will be entirely enclosed via a curtain, he said. Due to the sandblasting of paint off the tower – which has a high likelihood of being lead-based – all debris, dust and chips must be captured and not exposed to the environment.
“The containment area will be raised and lowered, so when we are fully raised, it is completely covered,” Bellitto said. “(Debris) will be captured and trucked off-site and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.”
Any lead paint will be disposed of by painters trained to handle such material, Gunsaullus said.
Furthermore, an access maintenance walkway around the circumference of the tower will be refurbished with the project.
“It’s quite a bit more than just painting,” Bellitto said.
Kirchner said the borough is coordinating a communication item with NPWA to be shared directly with neighbors and the community, prior to the start date.
There was discussion by the joint committees in May over lights being installed on the water tower. Bellitto told the committees Monday that no NPWA-owned towers have lighting on them, but lighting on the Lansdale tower “can be considered” if there is a desire.
Bellitto said it would cost an estimated $50,000 to construct the lights, and $800 a month in power costs. Lansdale Borough taxpayers would be responsible for the maintenance and power costs of any lighting structure.
Communication Commission Chairman Denton Burnell was impressed with the votes, considering the next highest number was 19 percent.
“It’s probably one of the highest respondent levels we’ve ever had in a survey we’ve done,” Burnell said.