Ridgeway Icon on Last Legs

Council is seeking grant funds to replace its aging water tank.

Council is seeking grant funds to replace its aging water tank.

RIDGEWAY (Sept. 22, 2016) – The iconic Ridgeway water tank may soon be relegated to the scrap yard, or at best to the grounds of the old school property for use as a photo backdrop. The one thing that is certain, Town Council said during their Sept. 8 meeting, is that its days as a fully functioning 75,000-gallon storage tank are all but over.

Council voted unanimously last week to apply for a Rural Infrastructure Authority grant to help cover the cost of replacing the tank, an endeavor that could run to nearly $600,000.

The price of a new elevated tank alone, Councilman Doug Porter said during the meeting, is $446,000. Piping will add another $35,000, while removal of the existing tank will add $15,000. With a 10-percent contingency built in, he said, the total cost of the project could cost up to $598,000.

“We looked at this for over a year or more, and made this a priority this year,” Mayor Charlene Herring said. “A review from an outside agency concluded that there were so many things in disrepair. One, you can’t fill the tank – it’s a 75,000-gallon tank – you can’t fill it to the top because of the leaks. We don’t have safety ladders, it needs to be painted again. We had it cleaned inside twice, what they call waxing, but you cannot do that anymore, it has to be (sand) blasted. Once you sand blast something that was built in 1922, there will be more holes. So we believe it is the best option to purchase a new tank.”

In order to receive the grant, Herring said, the application for which was due Tuesday, the Town would have to commit to at most $97,950 to cover the engineering fee, the contingency, permitting and geotechnical services.

Councilwoman Angela Harrison suggested moving the old tank to the school grounds as a kind of museum piece. Councilman Donald Prioleau said he didn’t want the Town to overcommit to other grants while the water tank was clearly Ridgeway’s top priority.

Council had previously during the meeting agreed to apply for a Department of Tourism grant to construct a playground at the old school. That grant – for $80,250 – would require a 20-percent match. Also on the agenda was a Municipal Association economic development grant of $25,000, which Herring said could be used to make repairs to the police station, sidewalks and the school arch. That grant requires a 5-percent match.

“What I’m hearing, we’ve got a lot of grants,” Prioleau said. “Some of them are matching, like 20 percent. I think we need to make this water project a priority.”

But Herring said the match for the Department of Tourism grant was being provided in part by $16,050 given to the Town by the Pulpwood Committee. It was hoped that the remainder, she said, would come from a County grant. County Council’s Administrative and Finance Committee, however, nixed that idea during their Sept. 12 meeting.

The Municipal Association grant, Herring said, could be matched either with cash or “in-kind,” with labor for the projects provided by the Town or donated by local businesses.

Council gave the OK to apply for all three grants. Matching funds for the water tank grant would come from cashing in part of the Town’s Certificate of Deposit.