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Seaside Heights Looks to Build More Powerful Water Tower, Separate Cell Antennas

The Seaside Heights water tower behind the boat ramp and water park at Sunset Beach. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Seaside Heights water tower behind the boat ramp and water park at Sunset Beach. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Seaside Heights officials on Wednesday announced they would begin planning a replacement of the borough’s water tower with a new structure that would provide more powerful service as the demand for water increases in town. Meanwhile, a wireless communications consultant was hired to negotiate the construction of a separate, dedicated tower that would house mobile communications antennas.

“It’s a long-range project dealing with the water tower,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz. “The water tower needs to be refurbished and that’s usually a major undertaking.”

Instead of a refurbishment, however, engineers have suggested a better plan would be to replace the current tower in its entirety.

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“One of the engineers who has been with the borough for 25 to 30 years has made a preliminary recommendation is that, if we can move those antennas off the [water] tower and put them somewhere else, we should replace that tower with one that can pump more water,” Vaz explained.

Water usage has skyrocketed across barrier island communities in recent years as homes have grown larger and seasonal residents have been visiting their “summer” homes year-round. Lavallette officials, earlier this week, said they measured more than 1 million gallons of water being pumped each day over the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The new water tower would be built in the same location as the current tank while the separate communications tower would be constructed nearby. The borough leases space on the water tower to wireless companies, and would need their cooperation to build the new tower, likely at their own cost. The consultant who was hired Wednesday will be tasked with negotiating with the wireless providers on effectuating the project.

“It’s a long-range project, but the way we want to do it is to have the cell phone companies pay for the new tower and the relocation expense. That’s what this company does,” said Vaz. “They have those relationships in the industry … and they will be negotiating those relocation agreements.”

The consultant will be paid no more than $18,000 and the contract will be re-evaluated at the end of the year. In all, the project is expected to begin sometime in 2025 and take three to four years to complete, according to Mayor Anthony Vaz.

“That’s the vision as it stands now,” he said.

The cost of a new water tower has not yet been ascertained – the borough must confirm the project is feasible before seeking bids and awarding any contracts – but it would likely be funded by the New Jersey state infrastructure bank, commonly known as the “I-Bank,” which provides loans to municipalities that are often forgivable.

“We’re in a certain classification that gives us a lot of principal forgiveness,” said Vaz, likely between 80 and 100 percent of the total cost, meaning water-sewer ratepayers would not have to fund the entire cost.

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