A defunct smokestack that has been dropping shards of concrete onto the Riverside Treatment Plant will get a $306,000 makeover with Waco City Council’s approval Tuesday.
The council and city staff appeared less than enthusiastic about spending so much money on the century-old relic, but they said they don’t have a better choice.
Deputy City Manager Wiley Stem said demolishing the 116-foot-tall smokestack would cost about $100,000, and it would detract from the Riverside water treatment plant, which is designated as a local and state historical landmark.
“The bottom line is that we have this site, and we need to restore the smokestack so we’re following all the rules everyone has to follow,” he said.
The council awarded a contract to R and P Industrial Chimney Inc. to renovate the smokestack for $306,098, with a contingency of $30,610.
Work includes removing the top 20 feet of the smokestack and replacing it with a metal replica, then repairing the lower 96 feet with a concrete or polymer composite and painting the whole thing.
The smokestack has been a quandary for more than a decade. It was built with the rest of the plant in 1914 to exhaust coal smoke from the giant Allis-Chalmers pumps at the heart of the waterworks.
The coal-fired pumps were retired in 1967, and the smokestack was largely ignored until 2006, when a chunk of concrete fell and pierced the metal roof of an adjacent building.
The Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission in 2007 recommended reconstructing the top of the smokestack, but the idea was shelved because of expense. In 2015, more debris fell, damaging a trailer below.
In an interview, Mayor Kyle Deaver said repairing the smokestack is the right thing to do.
“We felt we needed to preserve this historic building,” Deaver said. “That’s we expect private citizens to do. It’s frustrating that it’s so expensive, but that’s part of the building’s history, and that building is important to Waco.”
In other business Tuesday, the council authorized an $11 million contract with CSA Construction for the Hillcrest ground storage and pump station project. The water storage facility was built in 1929 and is due to be replaced, along with a storage tank off New Road.
The Hillcrest project includes a 2 million-gallon tank, new water mains and a pump station capable of delivering 16.5 million gallons per day.
“This will vastly improve the efficiency of us being able to move water around in the system,” Stem said.