BROOKINGS – Brookings’ oldest water tower, the 1902 structure at 1116 Fourth St. affectionately known as the Tin Man, was taken down Tuesday.
“That’s a change to the skyline for Brookings,” said Eric Witt, Brookings Municipal Utilities’ water/wastewater and engineering manager. “Definitely notable to the people in that neighborhood.
Turkey buzzards circled for a while but gave up looking for a roost as the morning lengthened. Subcontractor Iseler Demolition Inc., of Port Hope, Michigan, started at the top and worked their way down the structure. With sparks falling to the ground, the crew used torches to cut the tank into pieces and lower them with a crane.
Below 1, the first side section of the tank is craned to the ground. Above, the crew cuts the last bottom section of the tank away before it, too, is craned to the ground. Below 2, the entire tank has been removed.
The Iseler crew and some BMU staff were on site at 5:30 a.m. doing quiet work to prepare the site for demolition, Witt said.
“It’s not every day that we get a tank, a tower come down in town. It’s pretty noteworthy and interesting,” Witt said.
The top of the tank came off after 8:30 a.m. Before 11:30 a.m., all of the tank had been lowered to the ground. All that remained was most of the catwalk, the support legs and a section of the center pipe, which came down later. Iseler would definitely have it all done Tuesday, as they reportedly have to be in Oklahoma today, Witt said.
“It’s pretty amazing to watch nearly 120 years of service come down in a single day,” Witt said, adding that the Tin Man has served the community well.
The Tin Man is past its useful life and the oldest of the four water towers in Brookings, Witt said. The Tin Man was the smallest, holding only 150,000 gallons, and its riveted style made maintenance and repair tricky at best, Witt said.
“The last tower inspection we had, (the tank professionals) actually elected not to get into the tank itself,” Witt said in March. “Some of the catwalk and some of the access up on top does not meet current codes, current safety requirements, so there’d be a relatively substantial reconstruction … to make that safe to access again from the interior.”
A house at 1110 Fourth St. will be removed and a new 500,000-gallon tank will be constructed, centered on the two lots. That new, modern tank will replace not only the Tin Man, but the 250,000-gallon tank on Sixth Street, which will be taken down in the future. The date for that will not be set until the new tank is up and running, Witt said.
Constructing the new water tower is a two-year process, Witt said. The foundation will come first, followed by the tank erection. Witt is hoping that can all be done this year. The coating must be done in the warmer months. He is planning on the new tower being done in 2020.
The tank on Sixth Street is the next oldest water tank in town. The other tanks are the one on 22nd Avenue, which is 500,000 gallons, and the one on Main Avenue South and 20th Street South, which is 750,000 gallons.
“We’ll end up with ultimately one less tower in town, but slightly more volume and we’ll replace our two oldest water towers that are both in need of some pretty significant upcoming maintenance,” Witt said.