The Brentwood skyline by the end of this year will be devoid of an unused 200-foot water tower that has been a neighborhood icon for 79 years.
The 300,000-gallon tank, owned by the Suffolk County Water Authority, will be demolished in the fall after a 150-foot monopole cell tower is constructed beside it this summer, according to Jeffrey Szabo, the water authority's chief executive. The cell tower will also be owned by the authority.
"It's a risk to the community," Szabo said of the water tower. "That's the reason we're taking it down; it's not safe,"
Service providers AT&T, T-Mobile and Metro PCS have antennas on the water tower, which generate about $100,000 in rent each year to the Water Authority, Szabo said. The antennas, which are now on the exterior of the water tank, will be put inside the monopole.
The empty tower has not been used in years but often collects water when storms make their way through the hamlet, Szabo said.
The powder blue water tower -- with the word "BRENTWOOD" emblazoned on two sides -- has historical significance, said Ellen Edelstein, president of the Brentwood Historical Society.
"It's our high-in-the-sky welcome to Brentwood; it's been around forever," Edelstein said.
Edelstein said she was unhappy with the project's approval process, saying she didn't believe advocates to keep the tower had gotten their fair say or the chance to offer suggestions to save it.
"I think it's troubling that there are organizations that are obviously interested in wanting to be aware of what's going on," said Brentwood Chamber of Commerce president Eric Horn. "We're entirely in the dark and, whether it's negligent or intentional, to not inform us, I find that to be troubling."
Last year, however, the water authority gave notice of the project to the Town of Islip, put notices in local newspapers and held a public hearing on March 21 at the Brentwood Public Library, but no one showed up to give their input on the tower, Szabo said.
In January, the water authority board approved the project to take down the tower and awarded contracts to Think Tank Consultants Inc., a Hampton Bays-based water tank consulting firm.
Szabo said it would cost roughly $100,000 to renovate the tower and keep it standing, or about $1.5 million to restore it to working condition. He said neither option is fiscally responsible.
The $300,000 monopole will be constructed during the summer, followed by the demolition of the water tower in the fall at a cost of $100,000, both bills to be paid by the water authority, Szabo said.
"I'm sympathetic to [residents'] concerns, and I fully appreciate them, but I have to look at what's in the best interest of all our customers and ratepayers," Szabo said.
Brentwood resident Andy Como, 64, fondly remembered his Brentwood Senior High School trigonometry class in 1957 that used the shadows of the water tower to measure its size.
"Kids play nearby in the park and are curious and ask, 'What's that?' " Como said about the tower. "But that won't happen anymore."