Citizens launch efforts to save Blackfoot water towers

Leslie Sieger/East Idaho News The water tower that overlooks Highway 91 in Blackfoot will soon be coming down, but some local residents are working to preserve the structure.

Leslie Sieger/East Idaho News
The water tower that overlooks Highway 91 in Blackfoot will soon be coming down, but some local residents are working to preserve the structure.

By Leslie Sieger, East Idaho News

BLACKFOOT — Recently, Blackfoot resident and business owner Chase VanOrden was prompted to start a petition when he learned the two iconic water towers, one at 10 W. Walker Street and the other at 255 West Idaho Street, would soon be coming down.

Van Orden said he remembered being a kid and knowing he was close to home when he could see the Walker Street tower from the freeway.

“It symbolizes small-town America,” VanOrden said. “Tearing down what symbolizes Blackfoot is not the way to go. So much is disappearing, we don’t want to lose everything that makes us what we are. The towers symbolize home.”

VanOrden, owner of Snake River Satellite, started the petition Sunday and within hours he had more than 100 signatures. As of Tuesday afternoon the petition had accumulated more than 600 signatures.

The tower on Idaho Street, behind the fire department, was built in 1921, and the tower on Walker was built in 1954. Blackfoot City Mayor Paul Loomis said state law mandates that no taxpayer funds can be used to maintain the towers.

When asked if there was another way Loomis said, “Absolutely. If there was an organization that wanted to adopt the towers and take on the liability and the maintenance and take that off of the backs of the utility payers, I would support that.”

The petition will be presented to members of the City Council at a special council meeting next week to finalize the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

“We hope to see the community stand up and fight back, whether it’s a memory, an idea, or even a PokeStop, let’s not lose a great piece of our hometown history,” VanOrden wrote in the introduction of the petition. “Sign the petition, but alone that is not enough. Come to City Hall to the City Council meeting on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. to make sure your voice is heard. In a world with so much changing, we cannot forget where we came from.”

The petition can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/y8zvg5kt