Munroe Falls water tower structure problems discovered during maintenance

The Munroe Falls water tower needed major structural repairs caught during routine maintenance.

MUNROE FALLS – The city’s 10-year contract for maintenance of its two water towers revealed serious structural defects to one of them.

“But for the renovations, we wouldn’t have found the structural defects,” said Mayor James Armstrong.

The north tower was scheduled for maintenance in 2019 and the south tower was scheduled in 2020. South Reservoir Water Tank is located near Heather Knolls nursing home.

During the engineering inspection, emergency repairs and replacements were found necessary to the South Reservoir Water Tank and the agreement was amended to allow more services by Utility Service Co. not to exceed $308,189 to be paid in three equal payments of $102,703 and added to the contract years 8, 9 and 10.

In 2018, legislation allowed an agreement between the city and Utility Service Co. for multiple years for the engineering, repair, sustainability, water storage, tanks and appurtenant facilities owned, operated and maintained by the city.

Work includes removing all existing rafters and replacing them with new steel members. All the bolt hardware would be replaced with new bolts and nuts. Any clips needing replacements would be matched in size and shape. New lateral bracing would be installed between all rafters at 1/3 and 2/3 distances from the shell wall and lateral bracing would consist of 4 inch by 4 inch by ¼-inch angles fully welded to adjacent rafters.

The annual contract for the first seven years was $99,376 and the annual fees for years 8-10 are $39,025.

“We were pleased they extended the costs to be extended out three years,” Armstrong said.

Initially the tank was to be refurbished and was drained completely, Armstrong said. When they inspected the empty tank, they found structural problems and took photos.

“For bad news, it turned out as well as it could with the ability to program costs over the 10 years maintenance contract,” Armstrong said. “To replace the entire water tank would have cost between $4 million and $6 million.”

The city hired an engineer several years ago to look at capital buildings in the city after not having an engineer for a decade, Armstrong said.

“We are gradually getting things done,” Armstrong said. “I was worried about the water distribution system. We would have had to replace the tank.”

In addition, council member Allen Mavrides is a civil engineer and gives the city an expert on council, Armstrong said.

“We forwarded him the information and he gave us insight and helped us in the decision-making process,” Armstrong said. ”Experts make recommendations but is it in the city’s best interest or the builder’s interest?”

In year 11, they city will be back to painting and basic maintenance on the towers, and Armstrong said he doesn’t anticipate any structural issues for many years.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at