The Suffolk County Water Authority is in the process of taking down Brentwood’s 200-foot elevated water storage tank, which has been a fixture of the hamlet’s skyline for more than eight decades.
Work to deconstruct the tower began in early January and is expected to be completed sometime mid-February, weather permitting, said Jeffrey Szabo, chief executive of the water authority.
The tower — located north of Third Avenue and west of First Street — is one of the oldest in the water authority’s system, Szabo said, and has not been used for water supply since late 2011. The 300,000-gallon tank had become unsafe and “a risk to the community,” Szabo said.
Since news of the tower’s impending doom was made public in 2014, members of the Brentwood Historical Society had professed their love for the neighborhood fixture, which has “BRENTWOOD” emblazoned across it, and recalled fond memories of it from their high school days.
Szabo said that, in working closely with the society, the water authority agreed to put the hamlet’s name on the new monopole that will be erected on the site as a nod to the area.
“We understand and respect the community’s connection to the tank, as it created a sense of identity for the community. However, the tank leaked, needed significant structural repair and isn’t beneficial to the water distribution system,” Szabo said.
Ellen Edelstein, president of the historical society, has seen each day more and more of the community’s beloved tower come down, a process she called “heartbreaking.”
“The Brentwood water tower was an icon,” Edelstein said. “But now it’s gone. It’s sad the horizon is now permanently changed.”
Several residents have been taking photographs and videos of the tower before and during the demolition and posting them to social media, hoping to document its place in the community.
Edelstein thanked Szabo in a phone interview for working with her and the community to come up with the idea of putting the Brentwood name on the new monopole. The white monopole now has “Brentwood” written vertically in black lettering.
Original plans were to have the powder blue water tower demolished by the end of 2014. But time was needed to construct the $275,000 monopole, paid for by the water authority, that will be leased by cell providers AT&T and Metro PCS, Szabo said.
The monopole was originally to be placed inside the water tank. Several meetings were held with the public, and the contract to demolish the tank had to be rebid, Szabo said, further delaying the work.
The awarded contract to dismantle the tank was for $323,000 and is being paid for by the water authority, Szabo said.
It would have cost about $100,000 to renovate the tower to keep it standing, or about $1.5 million to restore it to working condition, Szabo has said, adding that neither option was fiscally responsible for the water authority.