Water Tower Repainting Causes Neighborhood Concerns

Friday, August 25, 2017, 4:34 pm
Alice Dreger

Above: One of the chips blasted off the water tower as seen today. Photos by Kepler Domurat-Sousa.

The ongoing cleaning in preparation for repainting of the water tower in Gordon Guyer Park is causing concerns for the neighborhood. One resident reports to ELi about the contractors, “they blasted off the coating yesterday and sent polyurethane ‘chips’ all over the park and surrounding houses. It looks like shards of glass everywhere.” The City tells ELi this afternoon that the City is aware of the problem and that it will be cleaned up. The City says the problem does not pose a hazard to health.

East Lansing’s Department of Public Works arranged for the interior and exterior cleaning and painting of the water tower in the recently-named park, located where Prescott Drive meets Chartwell Carriageway South. According to the City’s press release on the project, issued before the work began, it “will be completed in approximately 50 calendar days. This project is part of an ongoing program to improve the infrastructure throughout the City of East Lansing. The contractor for the project is L&T Painting of Shelby Township.”

In advance of the work, the City noted that, “The project will involve draining the tower and temporarily removing it from service so that the work can be performed. The project will include some minor interior and exterior safety modifications, high pressure cleaning of the tank’s interior/exterior and the application of a multi-layer coating system to protect the tower from corrosion. Residents should not notice any impacts to their water supply as a result of this project.”

ELi heard today from residents in the area about the pressure-washing causing loosened chips to be dispersed widely. One resident conveying the information to ELi explained, “Folks are concerned about the long-term effects of such material being sprinkled all over the park (and nearby houses) since kids could pick it up and eat it.”

Ron Lacasse, Infrastructure Administrator for the City of East Lansing, tells ELi, “The chips that came off the tower are a part of the clear polyurethane overcoat that was applied to the tower in 1993 to protect the new dark green paint from fading in the sun. This is not unlike the polyurethane that can be purchased at any paint store. There is no lead content concerns or harmful chemicals.”

Lacasse explains that the pressure-washing is happening to prepare the surface for new paint. He says, “This is the same process that was used on the Alton Road Tower last year,” near Patriarche Park. In that case, “very little coating came off so we were not expecting this poly to perform any differently. I think that the lattice-style legs on this tower have more sharp edges and corners than the round legs on the Alton Tower which allowed the high-pressure water to get behind the poly in more locations and peel it off.”

Lacasse says that the pressure-washing is now done, and “the contractor has been informed that they need to clean the debris from the park and surrounding area as needed and they are going to try to begin that process today. The City had a sweeper clean the streets adjacent to the tower today and will continue that process at the end of each day through the end of next week.”