While a water main replacement project continues apace on East Burlington Street in Riverside, the center of the village’s downtown will become a construction zone in early May when work begins on the Centennial Park improvement effort.

On April 19, the village board voted unanimously to approve paying National Decorating Services $27,480 to touch-up the paint on the historic water tower’s bricks, metal roof and balcony. Depending on the weather, work could begin as early as May 3, said Public Works Director Greg Koch.

If the weather cooperates, the paint job could be done before construction crews break ground on the park and street improvements, which are scheduled to begin May 10. If the weather pushes back the start date of the painting project, it won’t affect the other project, Koch said.

“The good thing is the painting project will not require scaffolding,” Koch said. “They’ll use a lift truck to paint the brick and move it around the tower.”

As for the roof, painters can access it through an access hatch and “tie themselves off from the top,” according to Koch.

Koch said that the touch-up work will be done using the same paint approved for the original restoration project in 2005. National Decorating Services is the same company which applied that paint at the time.

One difference in the scope of work this time around, Koch said, is that painters will apply a “proofing agent” to the brick that is expected to allow the paint to adhere to the common brick that comprises the top portion of the tower.

The paint used during the restoration began flaking off the brick soon after the work was done in 2005. Workers touched up problem areas in 2006, but the flaking only worsened.

In December 2009 when the village board approved budgeting $20,000 for the tower touch-up, Koch said that he believed the village would probably have to repaint the tower every four or five years. Whether the proofing agent will solve the problem permanently is unknown.

Meanwhile, Koch said he hopes changing the paint mixture will solve the problem of the tower’s roof, where peeling paint has been particularly bad. Last week he met with a representative from Pittsburgh Paint and said that the local supplier of the product did a visual inspection of the roof.

“What we’re seeing is the original primer from six years ago,” Koch said. “It’s in great shape. There were several issues with the paint, and the end result is there’s a way we can try to mix a better paint.”

Koch will meet with contractors for the $505,000 Centennial Park renovation project this week to plot how work will be completed. The project includes resurfacing East and Pine avenues, removing the service drive that slices through the southwest corner of the park, installing new sidewalks in the southern portion of the park, replacing the sidewalk on the west side of East Avenue, adding an ADA-compliant ramp to the southwest well house/museum exhibit space and re-landscaping the southern end of the park, including planting several trees.