TUPELO – City leaders this week committed an additional $12,000 to painting the east Tupelo water tank, bringing the total project cost to $51,000.
But the decision was not without debate.
Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan called it an unwise use of taxpayer money.
City “employees didn’t get a raise … and we’re paying $51,000 to paint a water tower that doesn’t work?” Bryan said, casting his vote against the project.
Also voting nay was Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington.
All others voted in favor of the plan, which passed 5-2.
“It’s an iconic structure,” said Ward 5 Councilman Jonny Davis, who represents east Tupelo. “It means a great deal to a lot of people throughout the city.”
The water tower sits atop a hill looking over east Tupelo and is rumored to have been a favorite spot of young Elvis Presley, who would climb the hill and play guitar as a boy.
It hasn’t been part of the city’s water system for years, though, and has slowly deteriorated without the routine improvements granted to active water tanks.
Residents of east Tupelo have long sought funds to renovate the tower and make other improvements around its base.
The prior City Council, in one of its final acts before leaving office in June, allocated $39,000 toward the project.
And in one of its first decisions upon entering office, the current council voted to grant the tower local historic status.
“We’ve been talking about this project since I got on the council,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis, who is now in her third term.
The city, she said, needs to go ahead and do it.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal