The long-anticipated restoration work on Riverside’s historic water tower will begin in 13 days and will continue through September, Public Works Director Michael Hullihan announced at the village board’s Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 7.

On March 1, workers will begin to prepare the tower and the area around it, including digging a “moat” around the tower to contain the lead-based paint during removal. Workers will also construct scaffolding, which will be in place through at least July, around the tower.

The scope of the work includes removal of paint from the brick and masonry water tower, sealing the brick surfaces, tuckpointing, roof and window repairs, repairing and painting the metal tank atop the tower and repairing the two well houses adjacent to the tower. The Historical Museum is located in one of the well houses.

Almost all of Centennial Park, where the tower is located, will be f enced off during the construction and the Riverside Historical Museum may be closed during a portion of the project. In addition, the Riverside Recreation Department, which is located in the former pump house at 10 Pine Ave., will be closed during construction. Rec Department personnel will be relocated to the village’s Public Works building in Riverside Lawn.

The construction zone will be surrounded by a 6-foot tall chain-link fence, and public access to the site will be limited to only the museum until such time as officials determine to close the museum as work progresses.

Museum Director Suzanne Bartholomew said that the Historical Museum could operate for a time during the initial stages of construction, but agreed it would likely have to close for a period of months.

Bartholomew recommended keeping the museum’s collection inside and covered during construction. But that suggestion was criticized by village trustees.

“I would strongly urge you to take anything out of there that’s valuable,” said Trustee Dorothy Schroeder.

Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. suggested relocating the museum’s collection entirely during construction.

“I don’t know if you can put a dollar value on what’s in there,” Wiaduck said. “This is a great inconvenience from the museum’s standpoint, but wouldn’t it be prudent?”

Four-foot wide scaffolding will be built around the entire water tower and will extend from the ground to the metal walkway near the top of the tower. Since the scaffolding will extend all the way to the ground, the Rec Department offices and pump room will have scaffolding running through them.

Paint on the tower will be removed using a chemical gel and rinsed from the surface, which necessitates the “moat” to catch the lead paint residue.

According to Hullihan, “virtually all of the paint on the building contains lead.” As a result, the village will conduct soil samples before and after work to determine lead levels.

After the paint is removed from the tower, workers will begin grinding the brick to a uniform surface prior to applying a sealant. Meanwhile, bricks on the upper portion of the tower, which were added after the 1913 fire, will be stained to match the original Milwaukee cream brick of the original tower.

The brick grinding will likely result in quite a bit of dust, although the grinders include vacuum systems to capture some of the dust. But since it’s unlikely that workers will be able to contain all of the dust, additional measures may be taken, such as draping parked vehicles in the vicinity, notifying neighbors to keep windows closed during grinding and increasing the frequency of street sweeping in the area. Grinding operations are expected to take approximately one month.

Once the brick is sealed, the scaffolding will come down to allow work on the pump house roof, windows and doors to begin. Repairs to the two well houses will likely occur at the same time other tower repairs are being made.

Hullihan said that the streets around Centennial Park will remain open at all times, although some parking spaces along East and Pine avenues may have to be closed during the grinding operations.

“I doubt [we’ll have to close parking spaces], but we’ll see how effective the dust-removal system is on the grinders,” Hullihan said.