Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Water Tower Casts Shadow Down Long Pond Road

Valentine’s Day visitors will have noticed a strange round object, visible from the waterfront. Not a flying saucer, nope. Wellfleet’s new WATER TOWER! A water supply tower makes perfect sense and was voted in by Town Meeting, on the recommendation of the Board of Water Commissioners. Most residents get drinking water from private wells. The majority of the people who will benefit from town water are those living in the Central District. Not everyone was pleased with this situation, which required the homeowners involved to pay a hook-up fee. Existence of the water tower now creates problems for people living near the tower's location, on Long Pond Road.

I know many volunteer hours go into making such decisions for small towns like ours, and I am not into second-guessing town boards, as a general rule. For details on the process before and after the decision, see the extensive online minutes here. The problem is no one wants such a thing “in his/her back yard,” especially when only certain members of the community can take full advantage of the town water supply. (Full disclosure, Chez Sven is located on Old King’s Highway, not one of the roads served by the new water system. We cannot see the tower either from the main house or the cottage.)

Now that the tower has been built, I understand how abutters might feel their space has been invaded by a decidedly alien structure. Real estate values may take a hit if the tower is visible from a certain property. Realtors will surely start describing property as being on the “tower-side” of Long Pond Road.

This week I received an email from a friend, who lives, yes, on the tower-side of Long Pond Road, a long-time town resident. She writes, “Between the looming water tower (which doesn't actually solve the ‘dirty water’ issue) and NStar, I sometimes wonder where I've landed.”

The tower will surprise many non-residents, too, upon their eventual return for summer.

In June, another “tower-side” resident, Marla Rice, was quick to suggest a committee be formed, inviting artists to submit designs for the tank. Details, related to this issue, were handled at a July meeting. What color and design were chosen? Not clear from the minutes.

I got to thinking of options. How about polka dots or red and white check? Or, we could have a smiley face on our tower. (Just kidding!) Photoshop allows us to imagine these blue and white striped marvels. Here’s a town that chose different shades of blue. My vote goes to sky blue.

One thing is obvious: what’s needed is the most fade-into-the-surroundings color/design as possible.

Wellfleet’s water supply system project was shovel-ready, which means certain homeowners won the jackpot as a grant became unexpectedly available and could cover part of the hook-up fee. Read all about it in this Banner article from last month.

Do you have a water tower in your town? What color is it? Does the structure blend into the landscape? If you vacation in Wellfleet, how do you feel about the town’s newest feature?