A 125-foot water tower was felled like a tree on Monday morning, while about 50 spectators watched from a respectful distance.
The tower near Eighth Street, Frenchtown, N.J., is the last element of the industrial porcelain factory. The factory, the oldest part of which dates back to 1910, was demolished last summer to make way for a housing development of more than 100 units.
Jim Johnson of Tamco Construction of Pipersville orchestrated the take-down of the tower. In the trade, this is called “a controlled trip.” Johnson explained that his crew had cut the central support at an angle as you would a tree, so it would fall where it was supposed to – onto the empty lot, and not across the state’s riverside biking trail.
Then a big wrecking machine snipped the proper steel legs, and “pulled it a little.” Gravity took over and the tower toppled to the ground.
In announcing the scheduled time of the demolition online, Mayor Brad Myhre pre-emptively answered a few FAQs.
Q: Does the water tower provide drinking or otherwise usable water to Frenchtown residents?
A: No, the water tower was strictly for the old factory site, which has since been demolished.
Q: Is the water tower worth saving for historical purposes?
A: Salvagability for historical purposes is always debatable, however, in this case, the water tower would cost several hundred thousand dollars to refurbish, and it offers no long-term value to the future use of the site. In addition, the water tower has numerous leaks and has become an attractive nuisance where individuals have sought to climb the tower and paint graffiti.
Q: What about the cell phone panels atop of the tower, will our cell service be negatively impacted?
A: The water tower has no power to it, and the cell phone panels currently atop of the tower have been nonoperational for several years.
The mayor thanked the developers “for giving the advance notice as requested so that we could alert Frenchtown residents that may wish to memorialize this occasion.”
The developers J. Todd and Scott Van Cleef, doing business as Country Classics at Frenchtown LLC, have spent the past year cleaning up the site’s industrial contamination. The company was recently designated as the site’s redevelopers by borough council, and their site plan is expected be submitted in October for review by the planning board in October.
The porcelain factory’s primary product was spark plugs.