Repainted water tower is unveiled in East Providence

From eye sore to emblem of the city ·

EAST PROVIDENCE — From an eye sore to an emblem, literally, of the city, that’s transformation the landmark water tower in the Kent Heights section underwent over the last few months.
Tuesday morning, Dec. 19, the contractors, Atlas Painting, and city officials unveiled the freshly painted tower, which was also emblazoned with the interlocking “EP” most associated with East Providence through its athletic teams at the high school.
“It’s one of the big symbols of East Providence. It was an eye sore,” said Ward 3 City Councilor Joe Botelho, in whose district the structure sits. “Now it really represents us well. It has the white and red lettering, which reflects the city’s colors. The lettering faces towards Providence, the highway, so everyone will see it. I’ll tell you what, it’s quite impressive now that it’s done.”
The repainting project was first considered late in the term, November of 2016, of the previous council seated in 2014. Then At-Large member Tracy Capobianco also initiated the notion of placing a representative symbol on the tower. The crest of the city was among those examined before the current council gave its final approval to the EP initials.
Work on the million-gallon tower, including some “spot repairs” to the interior and exterior of the structure according Department of Public Works Director Steve Coutu, began late this past summer. The tower was eventually enshrouded in scaffolding and protective fabric, a process that was hindered at times due to weather. (Sandblasting, in preparation to repaint the tower, ended the second week of November.) Several times throughout the fall, including during Tropical Storm Philippe, high winds caused minor delays, preventing crews from scaling the 175-foot tower and necessitating the sheeting to be repositioned.
“The job went well considering some of the weather issues they faced,” Mr. Coutu added. “It went pretty well overall. It was on time and on budget.”
The final cost of the project was $1.2 million, Mr. Coutu said, including the decorative lettering. There remains a few aspects that need tidying up, he continued, most visibly the removal of the scaffolding surrounding the tower.
Also, antennas used by T-Mobile communications, the state emergency management agency, the East Providence Police and Fire Departments, the city DPW and the city’s wastewater data systems must be perched back atop the tower.
“It’s the highest point around, so everybody takes advantage of it,” Mr. Coutu added.
Concluded Mr. Botelho, “Of all the things in the city, the water tower was what I was called about the most by my constituents. I think the people will be happy with how it turned out.”

— Photos by Rich Dionne