Additional grant for water tower possible: Brainerd council allocates more funds for the project

And they no longer have a deadline looming on the horizon.

Brainerd City Council agreed on Monday, July 19 to provide $ 162,043 in matching funds for a historical society grant application, which would provide the same amount – if awarded – to help fund a roof for the tower.

In 2018, city council set aside $ 300,000 for the tower – the estimated cost to demolish it if funds could not be raised to save it – and has so far only used $ 12,500. The $ 12,500 was matching funds required for a 2019 historical society grant to fund design plans for the new roof and necessary tower renovations.

With the designs, courtesy of LHB, now almost complete, the water tower committee knows what needs to be done to stabilize the aging structure and how much it will cost. The estimated cost of adding a synthetic rubber roof and a catch basin for drainage, as well as restoring the windows and steel staircase, filling in the brick around the windows and relocating flag poles, is $ 324,086, a decrease from the estimate of approximately $ 400,000. The chairman of the committee Paul Skogen gave to the board at its last meeting.

The grant application is due July 23.

Council member Gabe Johnson asked if the water tower committee had contacted Breen & Person Ltd., the law firm located under the water tower and most affected by the stucco fall in recent years, to ask him if he was satisfied with the progress made. . Mayor Dave Badeaux, council liaison to the committee, said he had yet to receive a response from the law firm. Council therefore asked city administrator Jennifer Bergman to make contact.

Assuming the new roof becomes a reality, the second phase of the tower construction would remove and repair the stucco, which could cost around $ 600,000. The tower, however, is structurally sound, and with a new roof to prevent further water damage, the tower could survive for decades to come.

Skogen also submitted a claim to Senator Amy Klobuchar for congressional-directed spending from the Senate Appropriations Committee for more than $ 400,000.

The historic water tower, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2020, sits on the corner of Washington and Sixth streets in downtown Brainerd. Although it no longer holds water, the structure has become an icon of the city, welcoming passers-by to Brainerd and depicting the city on its official seal.

City council began talking about the future of the tower in 2018, sparked off by large chunks of stucco falling to the ground.

A committee was formed and initially granted two years – until October 2020 – to raise funds to fund what was thought at the time to be between $ 1.6 million and $ 3 million in renovations. With COVID-19 throwing a wrench into the plans, council extended the deadline until July 2021. On Monday, committee members requested a further extension of the deadline until September 2022, but city council has agreed not to set another end date for the project but asked the group to provide regular updates as work continues.
The committee has raised over $ 44,000 so far, with an additional $ 24,000 in private pledges which will hopefully be made public soon.

Water tower committee members will accept donations at their booth at the Crow Wing County Fair August 3-7 and also sell water tower items, such as t-shirts, key chains , cribbage boards, cards and mugs. The group decided on Wednesday July 21 to order another delivery of Christmas tree decorations with the water tower, but are not sure whether they will arrive before the fair.

Other donations can be made online through the city’s website at, with a 3.61% service charge applied to all donations.

Those interested in joining the water tower committee can complete an application at or withdraw a file in town hall.

The committee, which is working toward nonprofit status, meets at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.

For more information visit or follow the Save the Historic Brainerd Water Tower page on Facebook.

THERESA BOURKE can be contacted at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at

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