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Residents Question Water Tower

waterThe 85-year old water tower standing in Munsey Park is going to be replaced. That much is certain. Corrosion has compromised the sanitary and structural integrity of the tower, and it no longer conforms with state building codes.

What is less certain is the type of structure that will replace the tower. H2M, the engineering firm tasked by the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District to come up with a plan, has recommended a new tower of the same height, to be erected a few feet away.

But residents, especially those in Munsey Park and Flower Hill, see an opportunity to finally eliminate a large structure towering over their homes. Many of them came to North Hempstead Town Hall on Tuesday for a public meeting on the project, seeking information about the new tower and possible alternatives.

The crux of the debate is whether there should be a new elevated storage tank built, or if a ground storage facility is better.

H2M VP Paul Granger presented his firm’s case at the meeting, recommending the elevated tank. Granger says a tower holds one key advantage – gravity – to best serve the needs of the community.

A tower would provide emergency water supply without electrical power, along with instantaneous supply for fighting fires. Also, an elevated tank provides distribution system pressure balance to prevent water main breaks.

Granger says a ground facility relies on pumps and electrical power supplies, which could be taxed during the summer – peak usage season for water and power.

“Loss of power threatens the ability of the district to provide water when using ground storage tanks,” Granger said.

Residents are seeking more answers when comparing the two possibilities.

Munsey Park resident Rosanne Harvey feels the benefits of an elevated tank are being stressed, with potential negatives being ignored, and vice versa for a ground facility.

“Is this ground going to be able to sustain 6 million pounds… are these types of structures recommended in such close proximity to houses?” she asked.

Harvey was also among those to bring up the lack of communication from the water district in light of the building, and quick removal of the radio antenna on the water tower site. She does not want a repeat performance when it comes to this new project.

“Listen to us, talk to us, give us the information, I don’t want to hear what’s in your heart…we need facts.” Harvey said.

Munsey Park village trustee John Lippmann has requested a thorough study of what a ground facility would look like, and its cost and impact as compared to a tower. He too stresses communication above all else.

“This is something that’s going to hang over our community for the next hundred years,” Lippmann said. “All alternatives need to be clearly investigated so that the best decision can be made.”

A new elevated tank would have a storage capacity of 750,000 gallons of water, as compared to 500,000 now. Lippmann questioned data showing that water usage is more than it used to be, claiming that it’s actually been fairly steady over the last 20 years. Resident Terry Connolly asked if the district planned to sell some of its supply to neighboring districts, which M-LWD denied.

Water District commissioner Andrew DeMartin says there will be continued dialogue and data presented to the public before a final decision is reached. A new tower would cost $3.2 million, with construction expected to start this summer. The project would be completed sometime during the winter of 2015-16.