Planned work to revitalize Yelm’s iconic water tower on the corner of Second Street and Washington Street will likely be delayed until spring due to logistics and the impending seasonal weather.
Work on the 125-foot water tower was expected to start this summer and be completed by fall. The stave, built by Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, was scheduled to get sandblasted and receive a fresh coat of paint along with minor structural reinforcements and a new light display.
But Steve Craig, president of Save the Historic Yelm Water Tower, said collaborative work between the city, contractors and his nonprofit has been slow going.
The City of Yelm is looking to contract additional inspections on the tank’s interior, Craig said. The city’s public works department is also looking at possibly moving one of the tower’s operational microwave antennas to the city’s newer water tower.
The nonprofit and city are also looking at a thick cut of wiring that runs up along one of the tower’s legs. Add the beginning of Washington’s wet season into the mix, and those involved were beginning to feel the pressure, Craig said.
“We decided we didn’t want to rush going into the rainy season,” he said. “The plan at this point is that once the weather breaks in early spring, we’re going to have at it.”
Craig said the $300,000 awarded to Save the Historic Yelm Water Tower from the state’s legislative capital budget has been secured through to 2021, so the goal is to get on the same page with the city and get it right the first time.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed, hoping there’s no snags,” he said.
The tower project has received roughly $454,000 in funds from the last two Legislative sessions.
When complete, the water tower will sport new fencing, landscaping, a fresh coat of paint and an interpretive kiosk. The main attraction will be the installation of a computerized lighting system that will illuminate the tower in a variety of colors for different occasions and holidays.
“I think it’s a very exciting project. It’s going to be a beacon of sorts for Yelm,” Craig said. “In New York, for the New Year, they have the ball. Well, here in Yelm, we have the tower.”