Freeport’s ‘Smiley Face’ Water Tower Will Stay Standing
Back in March of 2020, the city of Freeport was faced with the challenging decision of restoring their beloved smiley face water tower, or taking it down.
The Freeport City Council recently agreed to spend $2,500 to inspect the tower and check for hazardous chemicals in the paint, a problem that was supposed to have been fixed with a paint job in 2003. Once they have answers on the chemical test, they will then be faced with the decision of tearing down the tower or fixing it, which could cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000.
This tough decision was met with an outpouring of support from the community. People stated petitions and online fundraisers to raise the money to restore the iconic landmark. They raised about $3,000 which will all go towards restoring the water tower.
As of June 2020, Freeport City Council accepted a bid to restore the water tower to meet safety codes. The St. Cloud Times reported:
The Freeport City Council accepted a $30,000 bid from Tri-State Coatings out of Wadena to work on the water tower, which will include pressure washing the outside, disposing of paint chips (necessary because the tower has lead and chromium levels "higher than acceptable for standard disposal," the SEH memorandum said), priming the tower in spots and applying a complete coat of aluminum paint.
The new paint job is supposed to last 12-15 years, and will also include preserving the smiley face on the sides of the tower. Some more good news is that the tower was a lot more structurally sound than people thought. It wasn't totally rusted, some of that rust looking color was actually primer from a previous paint job.
The smiley face water tower is truly iconic and a staple on the Freeport skyline. The smiley face has even made its way onto the town seal. I will never forget the one day I drove past it with my grandma and mom and it was overflowing out the sides. This was obviously back when it still held water (before 2012 when a new water tower was built), but it was a memory and visual that is stuck in my brain forever. I'm so excited that Freeport is keeping this I-94 landmark for us all to enjoy.