By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer
The empty, never-used rusting water tower at Griffiss Business and Professional Park is about to get a facelift — in part because its too expensive to demolish.
It’s a tall order for Lindsay’s Painting and Wallpapering in Utica as the structure is 120 feet tall and 43 feet in diameter. The $32,500 contract was awarded by Griffiss Local Development Corp. Thursday.
"You are going to make so many people happy," smiled GLDC board member RoAnn M. Destito, as the contract was approved. "This will be a very good PR piece for you."
The deteriorating 250,000 gallon-capacity tower, off the east side of Griffiss Parkway (Route 825), was shown in a "Good Morning America" segment last year that focused more on negative aspects of Rome than positive developments that have occurred following the 1995 closing of Griffiss Air Force Base.
Work will start as soon as possible, according to Frank Sanzone, GLDC operations manager. All that is planned for now is to paint the tower gray. However, that could change down the road.
There has been interest in possibly turning it into a piece of art, taking an eyesore and making it into a landmark although nothing is definite at this moment. This discussion began last year as GLDC, working with artists affiliated with Sculpture Space, installed public art around the business park.
Neither Sanzone nor any of the GLDC board members could recall the tower ever being repainted before. Not even Chairman Frederick Tillman, a retired Air Force colonel who at one time commanded the 416th Bomb Wing at Griffiss.
Before the painting begins on the structure that is near the Brookley Road intersection with Griffiss Parkway north of Rome Free Academy, Sanzone said sitework will have to be done around the base of the tower so lift devices can be safely accommodated and a roadway installed. He estimates this will add another $12,000 to $15,000 to the project.
The ground improvements would become part of a trail network that’s being discussed for Griffiss.
Sanzone said two bids were received, with both Lindsay Painting and H20 Towers in Michigan submitting identical prices of $32,500. Five firms were contacted with two responses coming back.
Lore has it that the Air Force never used the tower to store water after its construction in the early 1970s due to defects. Because lead-based paint covers the structure, dismantling was dismissed in that abatement costs could reach six figures.