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West Hempstead water district to start $8.4M in upgrades

C. John Sparacio, left, West Hempstead Water District

C. John Sparacio, left, West Hempstead Water District commissioner, and Robert York, West Hempstead Water District superintendent, speak about a bond to replace their water tower on June 23, 2017, in West Hempstead. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

West Hempstead-Hempstead Gardens Water District is revamping its look with a new roof, tanks and pumps, and an upgraded security system.

But its most visible renovation will be replacing its 78-year-old water tower with a new one, district Superintendent Robert York said.

“We’re building a larger tank for storage in anticipation of what could happen another 50 to 75 years from now” and prepare for the possibility of increased water use.

The district has served West Hempstead, parts of Franklin Square, Garden City South, and Cathedral Gardens since 1939. Today, it provides water to 8,000 households.

The Town of Hempstead approved a $8.4 million bond on April 25 to finance the upgrades, including replacing the 225-foot-tall tower that holds 750,000 gallons of water.

The new tower will be the same height but hold 1 million gallons of water, York said.

And it will be a lot easier to maintain, he said.

The existing light blue tank has undergone some type of upgrade — either simply repainting or some retrofitting — about every 10 to 15 years, York said. Painting the tower costs $3.5 million to $4 million, officials said. A big part of the expense is in how the tower was constructed, with hard-to-reach places.

“The construction of these older tanks includes a lot of steel work,” York said. “There’s a lot of girders. There’s a lot of nooks and crannies. And there’s a lot of spaces that they [painters] can’t get to.”

The new tower will save the district money in eliminating the need to repaint as often, officials said.

The design being considered primarily uses composite concrete, making the tower practically maintenance-free, Water District Commissioner C. John Sparacio said. That construction will bring the cost of repainting closer to about $300,000 or $500,000, he said.

The district will use $6.9 million of the bonding to construct the new tower. Of the remainder, $655,000 will be used to paint the district’s 7th Street elevated storage tank and $264,000 is to go to a new caustic soda storage tank on 7th Street, officials said. Another $136,000 will be used to upgrade the alarm system and security cameras, $291,000 will be used to repave Birch Street and the district parking lot, and $154,000 will go to upgrading pump stations and the roof of pump station No. 6 at the Birch Street plant, York said.

The new tower will be built 1,000 feet east of the existing tower, so construction doesn’t cause too much of a headache for the surrounding community, York said.

“The only thing that we’re going to be experiencing in the beginning would probably be concrete trucks coming up and down through either Birch Street or Chestnut Street,” he said.

District officials said they are still finalizing designs but hope to start construction by the end of the summer. Once the new tower is in place, the old one will be taken out of service and dismantled, York said.

West Hempstead-Hempstead Gardens Water District water tower

Current tower

Height: 225 feet

Capacity: 750 gallons

Location: Birch Street, West Hempstead

New tower

Height: 225 feet

Capacity: 1 million gallons

Location: To be built 1,000 feet east of the existing tower

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