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Half-million dollar question for Osseo: Is iconic water tower worth saving?

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Is the idea of saving Osseo's water tower all wet? Or is the 99-year-old relic of the town's pre-suburban days worth rescuing at the cost of $500,000?

That dilemma, like the tower itself, looms over Osseo these days.

The cost to stabilize the rickety structure and remove its lead paint, among other repairs, is estimated at $500,000, the Star Tribune reports. City council member Allan Hartkopf – a 70-year resident of Osseo – tells the newspaper spending that much money would be a waste, particularly since demolition would cost just $80,000. 

Residents who feel differently have started a campaign to save the tower. Kathleen Gette has launched a Facebook page to rally support for the idea. Gette also helped Osseo obtain a grant of Legacy Amendment funding from the state to hire a consultant to evaluate the tower's prospects of gaining a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gette tells the Star Tribune the consultant's report is due in February. The findings could help Osseo decide whether to nominate the tower for the Register.

According to a report from 12TV last year, Osseo now gets its water from Maple Grove. But the old silver tower with the pointy top is an icon that's carved a spot in logos and banners, as well as the hearts of some residents.

On the other hand, city officials told 12TV Osseo's municipal budget is about $2 million, making it likely the expense of saving the water tower would lead to service cuts or tax hikes.

Supporters of the tower say a listing on the Historic Register makes government-owned properties eligible for grants to help with preservation. Elk River, another old town northwest of the Twin Cities, successfully navigated the process of gaining a spot on the Register for its water tower in 2012.

Other Minnesota water towers from Kasson to Brainerd to Pipestone are also listed on the Historic Register.

Highway Highlights' list of "10 Great Minnesota Water Towers" includes ones that are shaped and decorated like a corn cob, a bobber, or a coffee pot.

On its Facebook page some of the fans of Osseo's water tower say they appreciate theirs partly because it's not a coffee pot or corn cob, but rather is a water tower. Dennis Gardner of the Minnesota Historical Society tells the Star Tribune the Osseo tower's style was once common but "there’s not many of these left. This has become a rare kind of water tower."

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