It’s been just a decade since the Riverside water tower was restored. The village spent $1.37 million – OK that money also included building out the old pump house and doing exterior restoration work on the two well houses – back in 2004 and 2005 to reclaim the tower.
The village hired what was thought to be a top restoration architect to do the job and even snagged a federal grant to help pay for the work. To learn that the solution for shoring up the tower is leading directly to the problems the tower has experienced since the restoration work was completed is incredibly disappointing.
For years, Riversiders were given all manner of explanation for what was happening with the tower’s exterior. First it was the bricks themselves. The high-tech mineral coat wasn’t sticking to some of the common brick added to extend the height of the tower after the 1913 fire, we were told.
Then we were told that paint wasn’t peeling, it was actually the face of the brick crumbling away, again most likely because the bricks themselves were at fault.
Now an engineering firm hired to examine what the heck is going on with the tower has found that the bricks aren’t the problem after all. No, the problem, it appears, is the restoration engineering.
The village may end up getting a second opinion, but the conclusions of the engineering firm sure sound more plausible than the old “bad bricks” theory. Why can’t the coating adhere to the bricks? Because water trapped behind new steel flashing installed to strengthen the interior bracing isn’t letting them dry out.
Also, how did the previous engineering not account for condensation forming in the upper unfinished tower during cold months if heat from the finished lower spaces was allowed to rise into it? That seems either a sloppy error or a poor decision by the village to keep costs down if that option had been presented.
Now Riverside is faced with fixes to the problems with a price tag in the $1 million range – nearly as much as it cost to restore and build out the tower in the first place.
Of course, the village doesn’t have a spare $1 million lying around for the work and will likely have to either space out the work over time or combine it with other infrastructure needs.
It would seem that, down the road a few years, Riverside residents are probably going to be asked whether they want to fund a comprehensive facilities overhaul, and the water tower could be part of that.
In addition to the trouble with the water tower, there are ongoing issues with the space the police department is housed in, from security to simply functionality. We’re also hearing that future fire department vehicles may have trouble fitting in the spaces currently available for them.
And, of course, there’s the evergreen question of what to do with the Youth Center, which has served as a catch-all building with no comprehensive purpose other than to solve whatever space crisis the village has at any given time.
These are all big questions that will entail expensive solutions. Time to start thinking about them sooner rather than later.