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Copper roof installed on Jones Beach water tower

The top of the Jones Beach Water Tower

The top of the Jones Beach Water Tower is raised and put back in place after renovations. (Oct. 5, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

AFTER more than a year with a stunted profile, the Jones Beach water tower has resumed its iconic shape.

A new pyramid-shaped copper roof was lifted to the top of the tower Tuesday, one of the final steps in the $6.1-million restoration of the structure.

Once again the tower rose to its full 188-foot height and resembled the campanile of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice on which it was modeled when it was built in 1930 under Robert Moses' plan for the park.

The 32-foot-high roof structure was removed in the summer of 2009 after a section of copper fell out. The removal allowed replacement of corroded steel support columns and cracked bricks in the tower.

The roof was reconstructed, with new copper panels, by Schnabel's Roofing of Ronkonkoma. Last week, with the tower's cracked bricks replaced and most of the steel work done, the contractor, Minelli Construction Co. of Islandia, brought in North Shore Cranes of Queens to lift the 8 1/2-ton structure into place. But for five days high winds thwarted the move.

The company's policy doesn't permit lifting large objects when winds exceed 28 mph because under such conditions, removal "would be dangerous," crane operator Tom Brown said. Raising the roof Tuesday was tricky, he said, because "it's exceptionally high and you're on the water, so you have a wind condition here. And it's four-sided," which catches the wind easily, "so it acts like a sail."

As the winds abated Tuesday morning, workers attached the crane's hook to the roof, then waited more than an hour for an acceptable reading on the wind gauge at the end of the crane boom.

At 9:50 a.m., with no fanfare, Brown operated the crane to lift the roof. On the ground, four workers held two control ropes and, atop the tower, six others gathered under the roof as it was lowered into position. In 20 minutes it was in place and the crew bolted and welded it in place.

"I'm glad it's back up," state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation engineer Kevin Mee said. "It's a relief that nobody got hurt" in the windy conditions.

The new roof panels replace a set installed in 1973 when the roof was removed so a cover could be installed atop the 300,000-gallon water tank inside the tower.

With the tower again at its full height, "we're 90 percent done," Minelli president John Gertonson said. By the end of the month, the finishing touches - installation of large stone blocks near the top and metal work - should be completed.

Parks officials learned the tower needed repair in 2002, when bricks began to crack. Work began two years ago and the cost of the restoration almost doubled after workers discovered severe corrosion of the steel columns.

"The building was ready to fall down," Gertonson said. "The structural steel on the inside was completely rotted. Now, the building should be good for another hundred years."

What got



Cracked exterior

and interior bricks

700 feet

Or 20 tons of corroded steel column supports


Of the 16 columns

that support the 32-foot-high roof

(Each column is

12 to 13 feet long)


square feet

Of copper roof panels with thicker panels (almost one-eighth-inch thick)

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