Neighborhood Blight Draws Ire, Study
West Belmar water tower is in disrepair and township officials are trying to come up with a solution
It’s big, old and ugly. And it just might be useless, too.
The decrepit water tower in Wall’s oldest neighborhood has attracted the ire of area residents and the attention township officials, who are trying to figure out if it’s even needed.
The 140-foot structure at Maplewood Road and Curtis Avenue in the West Belmar section of town looks every bit of its 84 years -- rusted from top to bottom, pockmarked from peeling paint and some graffiti painted on one side of the tower so long ago its blanched from the sun complete the eyesore that leaves residents wondering why nothing is being done about it.
The tower was the subject of some discussion at the last Township Committee meeting, where at least one resident of the area wanted to know what could be done to remedy a tower that has fallen into disrepair.
“It is in disreputable condition,’’ said Mary Mooney, a West Belmar resident.
Kate Khori, assistant township administrator, said on Friday that township officials are looking into a number of actions related to the water tower, including scrapping it entirely.
“Leaving it as it is, is not an option,’’ Khori said.
But what to do with it may not be as simple as it seems, Township Committeeman George Newberry said.
“The water tower needs a lot more than a coat of paint, very honestly,’’ Newberry, who lives within walking distace of the tower, said.
Khori said engineers are looking at whether or how much the tower contributes to the town’s water and sewer system, as well as other difficulties associated with the tower.
Khori said preliminary analysis showed that the tower’s contribution to the water and sewer system was negligible. That would tend to lean toward scrapping the tower, if not for complications with communications antennae stuck to it, officials said.
The tower holds emergency communication antennas for the township Police, fire and first aid personnel. It also serves as a Verizon cellular tower, Khori said.
Khori said officials were working to find out exactly how long the contract with Verizon is as well as developing some kind of plan to keep the emergency communication equipment functioning should the tower come down.
Then there’s the cost of dismantling the tower, should the Township Committee decide to do that. Conversely, Khori and other officials are looking into how much it would cost to bring the tower back into repair. All that will be included in a report to the committee, which would then decide what’s to become of the water tower.
Khori said she would expect that a decision on what to do with the tower would come in the next six months.
It couldn’t possibly come fast enough for Mooney.
“I’ve lived here for 42 years,’’ Mooney said. “And in 42 years that tower never looked like that. It was always maintained and kept up.’’