The dismantling of the New York American Water-owned water tank on Dumond Place in Glen Head began earlier this month, roughly seven months after the company projected that work would start. Tarps line the base of the water tower as machinery periodically takes the tank apart piece by piece, a process that is expected to take a few weeks.
Construction of a new tank will begin soon after the dismantling process is complete. The project is expected to cost $6.2 million, which will be absorbed by NYAW’s capital investment budget, approved by the state Public Service Commission in 2017. Caldwell Tanks, based in Louisville, Ky., will manufacture the new structure.
NYAW Engineering Manager John Kilpatrick said that permit issues delayed the project by seven months. Most notably, Kilpatrick wrote in an email, several cell service providers had equipment attached to the water tank, and NYAW had to work with the Town of Oyster Bay to receive the permits to take it down.
“This permitting process took longer than scheduled,” Kilpatrick said. “However, New York American Water wanted to ensure that cell service would not be disrupted for customers.”
Residents said they were generally pleased that the dismantling process has begun. Jo Ann Petruzziello, who lives near the water tower, said its replacement has long been overdue. Having lived in Glen Head since she was young, she said the tank has not changed in decades.
In recent years, Petruzziello said, the bottom of the tank sometimes leaked. If this happened in the winter, massive icicles formed, which, she said, crashed to the ground with the sound of small explosions.
Petruzziello also said that NYAW had originally planned for the new water tower to be a cylindrical cement structure with the tank on top, much like those found throughout the Town of Hempstead. However, several residents disapproved of the plan, telling the company that it would spoil the area’s character.
“We had no choice,” Petruzziello said. The replacement “had to be done, but we didn’t want the cement beast — the nuclear power plant.”
“The existing Glen Head tank was built in the 1930s and no longer meets optimal engineering standards,” Kilpatrick said. “The new tank will ensure reliable service and fire protection for our North Shore customers for decades to come. We worked closely with the community’s stakeholders to select the new tank’s style, and their feedback determined that a modern version of the existing tank would be the best option.”
Agatha Nadel, president of the public-water advocacy group North Shore Concerned Citizens, said the dismantling of the tank was “better late than never,” but added that she was disappointed by how long it has taken. Since discussions about replacing the existing tank began in 2016, she said, she and many others in the community expected the process to start earlier.
“This is a classic example of where these private companies will say private does better than public,” Nadel said, “but it’s just a disgrace that they waited this long to get it done.”
George Pombar, president of the Glen Head-Glenwood Civics Association, said he was happy to see the dismantling taking place, although he was concerned about what might happen this summer. He said the replacement process could take eight to nine months, which would leave Glen Head without a functioning water tower during the summer. According to Kilpatrick, the tank is expected be brought back online by November.
Residents have a much higher demand for water in the summer, Pombar said, and he is concerned about whether there will be enough. Glen Head already receives water from Sea Cliff’s water tower, and he said NYAW might also have to purchase water from nearby water authorities like Jericho to ensure that the hamlet’s residents have enough.
Kilpatrick said, however, that he expected that NYAW would be able to meet the community’s water demands with its Sea Cliff water tank and its two wells in Sea Cliff and Glen Head. He also said this arrangement is not a permanent solution to the problem, and that NYAW encourages residents to conserve water when possible.
Pombar also expressed frustration with the sharp increase in the project’s price. Not only has it taken far too long to get it started, he said, but the nearly $3 million more residents are paying than the initial estimate is unjustifiable.
“We’re happy the project’s started,” Pombar said. “We’re not at all happy with the overall price, which was deceiving from what they told us.”
Residents who have questions or concerns about the project can call NYAW at (516) 632-2233.
Alyssa Seidman contributed to this story.