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Landmark water tower could be razed in Greenwood

August 14, 2011

A central Indiana water tower that once served as a local landmark for residents giving directions to wedding receptions and golf outings is being targeted for demolition because officials say it poses a safety hazard to a nearby airport.

The tower has stood near a small lake on the Valle Vista golf course in Greenwood since the 1970s. But it's no longer being used, and officials say development has obscured the view and that pilots aren't comfortable with its proximity to the Greenwood Airport about a mile away.

"It's like Monument Circle where it was once the tallest structure in Indianapolis, but it's lost in the background today," Valle Vista President and CEO Chuck Kern said. "I remember when driving on the interstate to Greenwood the first time, that it was breathtaking to see it on the hill over the farm fields. But it's just not as visible anymore."

Airport manager Ralph Hill told the Daily Journal in Franklin that planes taking off to the south fly a few hundred feet over the tower. That can pose a safety issue if a plane experiences mechanical problems and needs more room to gain altitude, he said.

He said pilots also come down out of the clouds directly into the path of the tower on overcast days and can be startled by the looming tower when they're focused on a safe landing.

Hill said he worries pilots will go to other airports where there aren't obstructions and thinks making pilots as comfortable as possible will help increase airport traffic.

Indiana American Water spokesman Joe Loughmiller said the tower serves as a backup to a newer tower built east of Interstate 65. He said it isn't being used now but would be filled if the other tower had to be drained for maintenance reasons or in case of a leak.

He said the company plans to use the tower again as Greenwood's population increases but could demolish it and build a new, more modern tower instead.

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