Seen here before the painting project began, the water tower features the whimsical "Smile ... You're in Sea Isle City" slogan.

By Donald Wittkowski

This project is bound to be a bit more complicated than your typical painting job.

So, a trip down to the local hardware store to grab a few gallons of Sherwin-Williams and some brushes simply won’t do the trick.

The landmark water tower that greets visitors with the uplifting expression, “Smile: You’re in Sea Isle City,” is going to be repainted. But don’t worry – the “Smile” message is staying put.

It will cost $667,500 to repaint and rehabilitate the tower. City Council has awarded a contract for the work to Allied Painting of Cherry Hill.

City Business Administrator George Savastano said the project will begin soon and is expected to take a couple of months to complete. He said more details will be known after city officials hold a preconstruction meeting with the contractor.

The underside of the tower shows scuffing and rust streaks, reflecting the need for a repainting.

City spokeswoman Katherine Custer explained that the project calls for renovation work to both the exterior and interior of the tower, including the need for extensive scaffolding.

“They have to get inside the tower as well as the outside,” Custer said. “It’s a big feat.”

In 2002, the last time the water tower was painted, the city changed the slogan on it from “Welcome to Sea Isle City” to the more whimsical, “Smile: You’re in Sea Isle City.” Savastano noted there are no plans to change the “Smile” message this time around.

Standing 100 feet tall, the water tower occupies the corner of 39th Street at Central Avenue and is one of the Sea Isle’s signature landmarks. It is impossible to miss entering town on the John F. Kennedy Boulevard gateway.

The tower was built in the 1970s and undergoes periodic maintenance, Savastano said. A look at the tower’s understructure reveals rust streaks and giant scuff marks in the light blue paint, highlighting the need for a repainting.