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Addition of Brainerd water tower roof moves ahead with grant secured

The city can now solicit bids for the first phase of the structure’s restoration, which will include a new roof.

Brainerd Historic Water Tower 2020 winter.jpg
Historic Brainerd water tower viewed from downtown Brainerd, Jan. 9, 2020. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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The Minnesota Historical Society gave final approval for a grant to Brainerd’s water tower preservation committee.

The grant, worth $162,043, will go toward putting a new roof on the tower to help stop ongoing water damage in the tower’s bowl. The city council agreed to kick in matching funds from the money it set aside in 2018 to demolish the tower if money could not be raised to fix it.

The city can now solicit bids for the first phase of the structure’s restoration, which is expected to include a synthetic rubber roof and catch basin for drainage, restoration of the windows and steel staircase, tuckpointing the brick around the windows and relocating the flagpoles.

But with increasing costs of materials like steel, Committee Chair Paul Skogen told the group Wednesday, Dec. 15, he isn’t sure if the $324,086 from the grant and city matching funds will still cover all the costs of all the planned work. Items like the stairs and windows, though, could be taken out of this phase of the project and be done at a later date, he said.

“We can only do what we have the funding to do,” Mayor Dave Badeaux said during Wednesday’s meeting. “We do have additional funds that we have raised. We do have additional funds from the city that we could potentially tap into. I don’t want to do that because I think we should set those funds aside for our second phase of the stucco and any matching funds we may need for grants for that. But we do have additional funds available if we do need to tap into those.”

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After the roof is erected, an optional second phase of construction would be to remove and repair the tower’s stucco, which could cost in the ballpark of $600,000.

After going out for bids for the roof, work is expected to start in the spring.

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Lego kits of Brainerd's historic water tower are on sale Off the Rails Market, a pop-up shop in the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd. Part of the proceeds will go toward restoring the tower. Contributed

Lego sets

Limited edition water tower Lego sets are available at The Shoppes in the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd. The sets are $215 each, with 10% of the proceeds going toward restoring the water tower. Sets are about 800-900 pieces and include step-by-step instructions to build a 1:120 scale model of the tower. There is only a limited quantity available.

Other water tower merchandise is available at Visit Brainerd on Laurel Street in downtown Brainerd.

Getting involved

Other donations to the tower can be made online via the city’s website at ci.brainerd.mn.us , with a 3.61% service fee applied to all donations. The water tower committee is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so all donations are tax-deductible.

There is one open spot on the water tower committee. Those interested in becoming a member can fill out an application at https://bit.ly/2SwQ4Rt or pick up an application at city hall. The committee meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at city hall, with the next meeting Jan. 19. Meetings are open to the public.

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For more information, visit brainerdwatertower.com or follow the Save the Historic Brainerd Water Tower page on Facebook.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Related Topics: NONPROFITS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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