Desperate dash to save 'iconic' Seminole water tower

SEMINOLE, Fla. - Seminole residents are in a desperate dash to save a 60 year old water tower from the wrecking ball. 

Long time homeowners in Seminole are heartbroken over plans to bring the iconic 110 foot tower crashing down, but saving it won’t be easy. 

It’s a tower with a thousand stories. Laura Roman, who lives just across the street from the water tower explained, “My daughter always says 'There’s the water tower, we are close to home.'”

Generations of Seminole residents share priceless memories around what they call “the big blue birdcage.”

Tom Barnhorn, Seminole City Council member, shares similar memories. “My grandson thought there were pterodactyls. He said 'Grandpa! There’s dinosaurs flying on that tower.'”

To them, it’s not just a defunct water tower, but…an icon. 

“We have all just grown to love it,” Sandy Holloway added, who lives just a block away. 

Holloway and her neighbors are so desperate to save the water tower.

They've done hundreds of door knocks, made up dozens of yard signs, and dropped off stacks of postcards at area restaurants. All in a massive effort to get residents to reach out to Pinellas County Commissioners to call off the bulldozers.

But they’re fighting an uphill battle. 

The county recently told Seminole leaders: Sure, you can have the tower, but the market value is $500,000.

That prompted Seminole City Council members to vote against spending half a million dollars on the tower. Although some city leaders agree to pay for maintenance on the building, they couldn't afford the hefty price tag. Plus, they would also have to spend an estimated $125,000 on upkeep and $25,000 to have the artist that did the painting on the tower to give it a facelift.

"Other than the fire department, the entire budget for our city is $8 million dollars. Buying it would be fiscally irresponsible," Barnhorn explained.

City leaders say if the county agrees to give them the tower, they will gratefully accept it.

Pinellas County leaders tell ABC Action News they want to sell the land and make their money back, which helps fund other utility projects across the county. Since the tower is empty and the pumps are no longer in use, the county sees no reason to keep it. 

The wrecking ball is on schedule to move in by June or July to bring the tower crashing down.

Holloway and her neighbors aren’t giving up hope, "It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

Holloway added: “My goal is for my grandchildren to look at this tower 40 years from now and say ‘Hey. That tower is 100 years old and my grandparents played a role in saving it.'”

To find out more about the community's efforts to save the tower, check out this link: http://www.savethewatertower.org

 

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