2013-08-22 / Front Page

Iconic water tower will be taken down

Staff Writer

The Yates water tower in East Brunswick will be razed in the coming months. 
THOMAS CASTLES/STAFF The Yates water tower in East Brunswick will be razed in the coming months. THOMAS CASTLES/STAFF One of the tallest structures in East Brunswick will be razed in the coming months, according to township Chief Financial Officer Lou Neely.

The 104-foot Yates water tower, located on Yates Drive between Route 18 and Old Bridge Turnpike, was built in 1955.

The tower was initially built to supply head pressure for the area south of the New Jersey Turnpike, but as additional water towers were constructed, pressure became adequate and the Yates tower was no longer necessary to serve that purpose, Neely said.

During construction, the interior and exterior of the 500,000-gallon water tank was painted with a lead-based paint that was difficult to maintain.

“To preserve it would require sandblasting the inside and outside, and sandblasting would put lead particles all over,” Neely said. “In order to accommodate that, we would have to net the whole tank. That [whole process] would be very expensive.

“Plus, it might last for 20 years before you have to do it all over again. The easiest and cheapest method is to have the tank taken down.”

The tower, however, serves another purpose — it has become a popular spot for radio-communication equipment. Several municipal and county emergency-service agencies have antennas on the tank to assist in the transmission of messages. Neely struck a deal with Middlesex County officials in order to continue to use the site as a communication relay point.

“We have allowed [the county] to be there for 20 years without [them paying the township a] fee. [Their] fee now is going to be to build a tower and to give that tower to the township. [They] just pay the cost of construction,” Neely said.

All current users of the radio antennas at the water tower will have access to communications from the new radio tower, which will be built on a property easement given to the township by the Board of Education. In exchange for the easement, the township will grant use rights to the school board, free of charge. The board’s administrative offices are adjacent to the Yates tower site.

The new lattice radio tower will be built before the Yates water tower is deconstructed, so that communications are not disrupted. The Yates tower will be taken down sometime this fall, Neely said, adding that the process should be completed within a day. To prevent any sparks from causing fires, nearby homes will be covered with protective netting during the deconstruction.

The bid for the deconstruction job is expected to be awarded at the Aug. 26 meeting of the Township Council, Neely said. The bid is expected to come in under $45,000, because the contractor will be permitted to use the steel tank for scrap metal.

“The price of the steel is in the bid spec,” he said. “We’re allowing the contractor to have the steel in return for a cheaper bid price.”

Sufficient funds to complete the project have been set aside in the township’s water utility budget. Officials said there are no plans in place for the future use of the Yates tower site.

Contact Thomas Castles at tcastles@gmnews.com.

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