Mount Pleasant's Old Village water tower: should it stay or should it go?

Old Village Water Tower: Should it stay or should it go? (WCIV)

Should it stay or should it go?

It’s the big question regarding the future of the Old Village water tower.

It’s considered one of the few remaining landmarks in Mount Pleasant, but the aging structure needs some expensive repairs.

Mount Pleasant Waterworks owns the tower. It hasn’t been in use since 1991, but it does still serve a purpose: the company leases the space out to several cellphone carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

Clay Duffie, MPW General Manager, said the lease generates about $100,000 a year and helps keep service rates low. It may be the highest point in the Old Village, but the 84-year-old tower needs major repairs.

‘It’s trying to improve the service for the cell service, but also minimize our risk for the maintenance cost for the utility in the future,” Duffie said. “We’re talking about around a million dollars to repair the existing tank, fix many of the safety issues that have developed over the last few years.”

Duffie said cellphone coverage in the Old Village would suffer if those antennas were no longer located on the site or somewhere near the vicinity. He said the absence would hamper company growth, too.

“We also need an antenna on that site to be able to implement our new advanced metering infrastructure, which will be able to give us hourly readings of our customers consumption,” he said. “We’re trying to work with them (carriers) and the community to decide if we should just go ahead and put an antenna on the existing site and continue to provide service.”

Roberta Guthrie moved to the Old Village in 1997. She said she’s become used to the sweeping changes around the area.

“It’s lovely, absolutely. It’s like a beacon,” Guthrie said of the water tower located right across the street from her home. “I empathize with all of it because the expenses are difficult to deal with and no one wants their bills to go up. My selfish issue is I don’t want a giant cellphone tower across from my house.”

There’s a lot to consider—the historic significance, the potential costs passed to the customer and the growing need for wireless service.

Guthrie is not keen on higher bills, she’s used to paying between $40-$50 a month for water. But, like so many others, she’s cut her landline and relies on wireless coverage.

“I want good cellphone service and if it comes down and if it has to come down then I would understand and I’d get used to it,” she said.

The public is encouraged to weigh in on the matter at a commission meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and will be located at the Mount Pleasant Waterworks Operations Center, 1619 Rifle Range Road.

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