Water tank project 'slow going'

Chad Frey
The Kansan

When a project to demolish a 100-year-old building on West First began this week, social media user began to ask if that was connected to a city project to construct a new water tank in the area. 

The short answer is no. 

"[The demolition] is unrelated to the water tank project," said Erin McDaniel, director of public information for the city of Newton. "The City has nothing to do with this demolition, other than issuing the demo permit. Our new tank is going to be to the south."

The city has been working on replacing a water tank on West First constructed in the 1930s with a new tank south and west of the current tank, and south and west of current buildings in the area.

That is southwest of the current tank and southwest of current buildings in the area — including the building currently under demolition.  

The building is privately owned and has sat empty for more than a decade. Demolition began this week. The water tank replacement project began in 2012, when a structural inspection revealed that roof-framing members are “severely deteriorated” and there was water seepage from the base of the current tank.

The tank in question is a 3.8 million gallon water storage tank constructed in 1939. The inside of the tank was last painted in 1997.

City staff, and a water system consultant, is recommending building one smaller tank — a 1.9 million gallon tank — at a new location, replacing the 1939 tank with a second 1.9 million gallon tank.

With the location of feeder lines from the Mission Water Station to the city of Newton, it was determined the best place for the new tank would be southwest of the current tank — on property owned by BNSF. The city filed for condemnation in 2017 to acquire land from Nortrack, a rail manufacturing company, and BNSF in the area. 

There is not, at this time, a timeline for construction of the project. 

"There no timeline quite yet," McDaniel said. "This has been so slow-going. We are still working through final plan review and state approvals."