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Iconic North Park water tower needs earthquake proofing

Posted: 5:38 PM, Jun 02, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-10 08:45:13-04

SAN DIEGO -- The iconic North Park water tower has stood the test of time, but it may not be able to withstand a major earthquake.

Now, the city is set to spend more than $1 million to make it stronger. The tower's nearly 130 feet tall, and the city wants to keep it standing. It was decommissioned and has no water inside. 

Resident Noah Grime had a scary thought as he passed the water tower this week.

"I was walking the other day with my girlfriend, we were just noting that if it did fall over, it would be terrible for everyone around," he said.  

On Thursday, the city unveiled plans to hire an engineering firm to seismically retrofit parts of the water tower, built in the 1920s. It'll cost more than $1.1 million. A spokesman for the city said the project could start later this year and be complete by the end of 2018. 

A prior inspection found the landmark mostly up to code, but other parts are corroding and in poor condition. Tie-rods used for side-to-side stability need to be replaced, as do some steel connectors. Engineers still need to investigate some of the soil around the structure.

"It's San Diego's Eiffel Tower," said Juan Lopez, who works on nearby El Cajon Boulevard. "It gives you a sense of direction and also a sense that history has happened here."

It's a history that Grime says should be preserved, even if it costs more than a million dollars.

"That's a ton of money, but ultimately I feel like it's probably worth it if it's going to be keep that thing from tipping over and taking out the whole neighborhood," he said.