By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City spent nearly $670,000 to give its 135-foot-tall water tower at 39th Street and Central Avenue an entirely new look and personality last year.
When the renovation work was finished, the once-faded tower sported a gleaming new aqua blue paint job and a whimsical smiley-faced sun character wearing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.
The water tower greets visitors arriving in town on the John F. Kennedy Boulevard entranceway with a friendly “Smile … You’re in Sea Isle” slogan written in big, bold black letters on the side.
Next up for a makeover is the city’s second water tower, a bland-looking structure that hovers 130 feet over the skyline in Sea Isle’s Townsends Inlet section at 80th Street and Central Avenue.
The city’s newly adopted capital plan proposes to spend $510,000 in 2020 to refurbish the tower, which says, simply, “Townsends Inlet … Sea Isle City” on the side.
City spokeswoman Katherine Custer explained that the tower will be repainted and rehabilitated, but she doesn’t believe it will get a new slogan or design put on it, unlike what happened with its counterpart on 39th Street.
“I think it will continue to say ‘Townsends Inlet’ on it,” she said in an interview Monday.
The city still must go out to bid and award a contract for the project, so it is not yet clear when the work will begin.
The water tower was built in the 1960s and is by far the tallest structure on the southern end of the barrier island. The legs supporting the water tank are 100 feet high. The tank itself is about 30 feet tall.
Custer described the color as an “aqua powder blue.” The “Townsends Inlet … Sea Isle City” logo is written in basic black script. Flashy it is not.
Sea Isle owns the tower because it is part of the municipal water system. The structure stands on the city’s Public Works Department property.
Water towers are rehabilitated as part of their periodic maintenance. In addition to being repainted and getting a new look, the tower on 39th Street underwent extensive renovations both to the interior and exterior of the water tank.
Assuming the Townsends Inlet water tower is refurbished in the same way as the one on 39th Street, the structure will be ringed in a massive metal scaffold making it appear as though it is trapped in a giant spider web.
Next, the scaffold will be draped with a huge tarp or shroud to allow the tower to be power-washed and repainted.
This will be no ordinary paint job. The water tower at 39th Street, for instance, took three coats of paint inside and outside of the tank – 550 gallons in all.
“They probably will do the whole process – from top to bottom, soup to nuts,” Custer said.
Jersey Shore towns often use their water towers as a whimsical canvas to promote themselves or feature their iconic landmarks. Sea Isle adopted that philosophy with the smiley-faced design for the tower at 39th Street.
Avalon’s water tower boasts that the town is “Cooler by a mile.” In Longport, a huge smiley face peers out over the town on one side of the water tower and the words “The Best Port: Longport” are inscribed on the other side.
Margate’s water tower is adorned with an image of Lucy the Elephant, the gigantic wooden pachyderm that started as a real estate gimmick in 1881 and has since become the town’s signature tourist attraction.