Water Tower Will Cost $113,000

Marysville civic leaders and history buffs now know just how expensive it will be to repair the city's historic water tower.

The Comeford Park tower, built in 1921, has fallen into disrepair. A long-awaited consultant's report delivered to the city this week puts a $113,000 price tag on the fixes needed to keep it standing, including sandblasting lead-based paint and steadying it to comply with earthquake-safety regulations.

Although the water tower has been out of use for more than three decades, longtime Marysville residents say it is worth saving as a symbol of the fast-growing city's history.

"We've lost too many historical landmarks in this town," said Steve Edin, president of the Marysville Historical Society. "This is where we draw the line."

Marysville was founded around a lumber mill and trading post in 1891, and the city turned to strawberry farming after the nearby hills were logged out. The city has grown rapidly in recent years, with its 1990 population of 10,300 swelling to nearly 20,000 last year.

The gray tower, with "Marysville" painted on the tank, remains the city's most visible landmark, and its image is on the city seal. Old-timers recall how they scaled it as teenagers and how a red beacon at the top once signaled police when there was an emergency.

The city lost another old water tower in 1987, along with several other historic buildings razed to make way for the Marysville Towne Center Mall. The tower's demolition drew a crowd of thousands.

Tearing down the Comeford Park water tower would cost $55,000, according to the report by Tank Industry Consultants, for which the city paid $22,000.

Mayor Dave Weiser said he'd like to see the water tower saved. He hopes to persuade civic groups to pitch in with fund-raisers to help cover the cost.

Weiser said the city has a reserve of about $2.8 million, but he's not sure how much of the city's $48 million annual budget could be dedicated to the tower's preservation.

Weiser said an open house has been planned for Sept. 20 at the Ken Baxter Senior Community Center to gather comments on the fate of the old tower.

Although there has been some resistance on the City Council to spending too much money on the landmark, Edin said he hopes to rally the community around its most visible symbol.

"I'm going to start drumming up the troops and write letters, and be cranky about it," he said.

Jim Brunner's phone-message number is 425-745-7808. His e-mail address is jbrunner@seattletimes.com