Ultimatum saves M’ville water tower


Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — Residents remember playing under it, attending Easter services beside it and even getting engaged near the historic landmark.

And for the past year, fans of the 1920s relic have sold paintings of it, held pet shows and put out change jars to save it.

But it took an ultimatum from the president of the Marysville Historical Society, Steve Edin, to raise the last of the more than $100,000 needed to save the Marysville Water Tower from demolition.

"You need to stand up, say this is it, draw the line somewhere," said Edin, who told society members a month ago that they need to step up to the plate and save the sky-blue beacon or else find themselves a new president for next year.

The 40 or so members who attended Monday’s society meeting agreed unanimously to use up to $50,000 of the society’s funds to save the tower, located at State Avenue and Sixth Street.

The city has already pledged $55,000 toward the tower’s restoration. Word of the tower’s potential demise surfaced in spring 1999, after a consulting firm made estimates of what it would take to bring the tower up to current federal and state safety and seismic standards.

The tower has not been used for water storage since the 1970s.

"We don’t have many landmarks or historical artifacts left in this town any more," Edin said in a spirited plea to save the tower at Monday’s meeting.

"This is an opportunity to play a part in the future of Marysville. We can put our hands around this. And it’s clearly within our means," Edin said.

At Monday’s meeting, most spoke soundly in support of the project.

Ken Cage, a society member, said he’d originally opposed efforts to save the tower.

"I’m a mechanical engineer," Cage said. "I understand old, rusty creaky structures."

But Cage added, since the members decided to take the project on last year, they should give it their best shot.

"Now that we decided we’re going to save the tower we bloody well better do it and do it with everything we can," Cage said.

Several speakers at Monday’s meeting also brought up their disappointment that the tower, which has sported the city’s Christmas decorations for years, sits dark this year, because its roofline is too rotted to support decorations.

Darlene Scott, a member of the Downtown Merchants Association in Marysville, said the business association has wholeheartedly supported efforts to save the tower.

"It’s the only sign of Marysville you see along this highway," Scott said, waving an envelope of donations from members of her association.

"It should have been lighted. It advertises that we are somebody," she said.

One society member questioned whether the funds the society will put toward the tower might take away from years of fund-raising to build a city museum.

Edin replied the society would still have about $40,000 to use toward that goal, and more importantly, lots of time.

"With the tower we don’t. When it’s gone, it’s gone," he said.

He also urged society members to take up the cause of the tower because it’s been about 15 years since the group’s last major endeavor. In the mid-80s, the society moved the Gehl House, a pioneer house, to Jennings Park.

Margaret Austin said it also would be easier for the society to replenish funds for the museum than it has been to raise funds for the tower.

"Foundations, grants, they don’t want to support a metal structure. Museums, that’s the perfect thing (for them) to fund," Austin said.

Earlier on Monday, Edin had explained why he, along with Austin and three other community members, have spearheaded the more than yearlong effort to save the tower. The group led the charge to raise the $18,000 or so already in the historical society’s tower fund.

"The tower is one of the last remaining landmarks here in Marysville," Edin said.

"There’s been so much development here, especially in the last 10 years," he said, adding that Marysville hardly resembles the place he moved to in 1978.

But for now, there may be at least one landmark here to stay: the tower with the words Marysville emblazoned around its tank.

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