|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
School removed from water tower debate
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – A decision by Trinity County Judge Doug Page Monday effectively removed the Trinity Independent School District from the debate over the design of a proposed new water tower. Page had previously ruled the new tower had to be built on school property, but reversed that stand and decided to allow the city to build the elevated water storage tank on land adjoining the Trinity High School/Middle School campus. The project is being funded with $570,000 of the Hurricane Ike Recovery Funds awarded to Trinity County. The federal money is intended to help local governments prepare for future disasters such as that experienced when Hurricane Ike swept through East Texas in September 2008. In the past, the county has used the Hurricane Ike funds to purchase emergency power generators for rural water systems and senior centers. Page noted the money allocated to this project by the county is intended to solve water pressure problems at the high school, which is used as an emergency shelter. Under the original plan for the project, the county would provide the money to build the tower; the City of Trinity would contract to build it and would operate and maintain it in the future; and TISD would provide the land on which the tower would be built. Problems arose when the school board balked at the design proposed by the city and backed a plan for a single stem hydrosphere or “golf ball on a tee” design. Such a design was expected to add about $100,000 to the cost of construction compared to the more traditional four or five legged water towers. The school board had been scheduled to continue discussions on the tower project during their meeting Monday night, but the matter was dropped once Page informed school officials of his decision. “My concern with the water tower was that it was going to be sitting right in front of the high school,” said TISD Board Member L.C. Courtney after the meeting. He added that while he did not want it to detract from the appearance of the school, once the decision was made to locate it off school property the school was no longer involved with its design. City Manager Buddy Drake said Tuesday the spot on which the tank will be built has not yet been determined, but the city has had offers from landowners on both sides of the school. Drake noted that in “all probability” it would be located along the Highway 94 frontage to give it easy access to the major Trinity River Authority water distribution line that runs from Trinity to Groveton. “The first thing we need to find out is how much land will be needed and we can go from there,” Drake said. He noted that the downtown water tower uses a 125x125-foot space but the lot for the proposed new tower might be bigger. The downtown tower is a 150,000-gallon tank and the one being proposed to serve the high school and surrounding area will be between 200,000 and 250,000 gallons. Drake noted the tank will solve a major concern that has been voiced by members of the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department for several years. Local firefighters have noted there is not enough water pressure at the high school/middle school complex to fight a major fire, should one occur. The new water tower located next to the campus would solve that problem plus water pressure problems experienced by homes and businesses on the western side of Trinity. He noted that it is very likely that once the new water tower is in place, the cost of fire insurance to everyone in that area will decrease.