Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Tower Lights the Night

Airline passengers and evening commuters to Eagan are already noticing a striking new landmark on the horizon. Tuesday night marked the “flip the switch” date for a new and improved communications tower on the site of the former Sperry water tower in north central Eagan.

At 198 feet, the new tower is 53 feet taller than before. The previous water tower had cell phone carrier and 9-1-1 technology for radio communications with first responders. The new tower hides all of that technology, and at night—from just after sundown until midnight—it lights up and can change color and has visual effects.

“This really marks Eagan as a destination, with a sense of fun and flair,” said Eagan Communications Director Tom Garrison noting that the City has received many positive comments like ‘awesome,’ ‘very cool,’  and ‘modern,’” Garrison said.

185 LED light fixtures with more than 5,400 bulbs can be programmed to run an infinite number of color combinations. (Red, white and blue patriotic colors, for instance, can be used on July 4th.) Right now the tower will be set primarily in familiar Eagan green until the City Council considers a formal policy January 17. Some other effects demonstrated Tuesday night include winter snowflakes, a Fall setting, a rainbow look, etc. Based on current projections, engineers say,  the cost for the lighting is about $2.20 a day.

The tower is designed to last without significant maintenance for about 50 years, double the maintenance schedule of a typical water tower. The previous Sperry Tower had not been used for water since 2009, was not needed for water capacity and would have required extensive and expensive structural repairs. The alternative of refurbishing the Sperry Tower would have cost an estimated $1 million and would have required yet another upgrade in 25 years.

The new communications tower, which cost about $1.7 million to design and build, holds and hides important telecommunications equipment from carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.  Tower lease revenues, which currently total more than $170,000 a year, will pay back the investment in the new, lower-maintenance tower.

“Now if we only had cool name for the new tower,” Garrison added.