What does Cal Water have planned for the properties the tanks are sitting on?

13 Jun

Cal Water has announced that Chico’s old water tanks – located at three different sites surrounding the old city grid – are not earthquake rated and must be torn down. They say retrofitting is pretty much out of the question – “estimated at $800,000-$1.2 million each, compared to $150,000-$200,000 each for removal.”

Some people are upset at the loss to Chico’s historic skyline, but today I got a comment from Leonard Costa, who is skeptical of the cost and reasoning behind the removal.

“someone trying to justify their job condemned our water towers. An earthquake at that magnitude would level our town so the towers would be the least of our worries. So why waste our tax dollars taking them down?”

Good question Leonard, I have to wonder myself. While I hate to be capricious about safety, I have to ask – what kind of event would it take to knock over those towers? What magnitude earthquake or storm would be able to do that? 

I ask because I’m not convinced Cal Water is worried about that. I think they really want to sell the property the tanks are sitting on.

They mention that Dan Gonzalez of the Meriam Park development group would like to buy at least one of the tanks for it’s historical value. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised of the Meriam Park group would like to get a hold of at least one of the lots the tanks sit on. They’ve been wanting to build Downtown – live/work units – for years, first proposing a complex located at the city parking lot that hosts the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and then another at the site of the old Petersen building on East First Street, bordering the section of Chico Creek front known as “Lost Park.”

Both of those proposals were shot out of the saddle. We found out how much political clout the Saturday Farmer’s have and we also found out that section of Chico Creek at “Lost Park” is contaminated from years of dry cleaning activities in that building. Meriam Park principal Tom DiGiovanni tried to convince the city to clean it up, but given the city’s financial situation that didn’t go anywhere. 

So  now, I’m going to make my guess, the Meriam Park group has been wheedling Cal Water to tear down those old towers and make that land available for development.

Watch and see.


2 Responses to “What does Cal Water have planned for the properties the tanks are sitting on?”

  1. Jim June 13, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

    A few thoughts on the water towers:

    Yes, both 6th & Esplanade and Downtown are valuable properties. The Esplanade one is across from Enloe Hospital. Good location for a medical building.

    Cal Water can also probably claim the removal as an operating expense to justify a rate increase.

    The Downtown towers are protected as a historic landmark, which will require special permission for removal.

    It seems like this is suddenly a big hurry. Yesterday Verizon was removing the cell phone antennas from the tower at 6th & Esplanade. Which means that the lease must have just expired or Cal Water made a deal with Verizon.

    The Downtown Water Towers are also used for cell towers. Will they need to put a new cell phone tower Downtown to maintain coverage? We have very strict rules about new towers in Chico. Hows is that going to work?

    I’d like to know the history of this seismic study. Also who paid for the study and who performed the study. Does this effect all water towers in California our just ours? Can we get another study to confirm or refute the risk?

    I’ve already been in touch with Andrew College and he offered to look into this in more detail. Sean Morgan was dismissive and said that the city shouldn’t get involved.

    • Juanita Sumner June 14, 2017 at 4:38 am #

      Thanks for the research Jim, I never knew about the cell towers.

      Have you called Cal Water and asked these questions? I’d be interested in hearing their response. It seems to me the city and county are allowed to regulate any utility that operates in the area, but I don’t know the extent of their power.

      Frankly, I don’t care about the towers, I’m more worried about the cost that will be passed along to ratepayers, possibly taxpayers too. I am also interested in what Cal Water will be allowed to do with that property once the towers are down.

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