OCEAN PARK - Planning for a water tower in Ocean Park was the main topic of discussion at the monthly meeting of the North Peninsula Improvement Association Thursday. NPIA members agreed that one or two people are needed to step forward and spearhead the project.

Tom Morrow, president, read a memo from Fire District No. 1's Brad Weatherby that stated a million gallon tank would cost $1.6 million and a 500,000 capacity tank would have a price tag of $1.1 million. In return for the large outlay Tom Downer's research found that insurance savings for area commercial buildings and individuals could be as high as 50 percent per year.

Weatherby's conclusion was, "The fire department would like to see the one million gallon tank." The NPIA has reviewed plans for a structure that would be elevated on nine legs and likely be located somewhere near the Ocean Park grade school.

Morrow cautioned, "At the present time if we had a large structure fire in Ocean Park that wasn't put out in the first 15 minutes it is likely we'd just have to let it burn because we don't have enough water supply to put it out."

The NPIA has discussed dove-tailing the water tank with the school's needs for a water supply. NPIA member Curt Stephens agreed to attend the next school board meeting with Morrow.

"Ocean Park Water Company has had no comment," Tom Downer said of another key player in the proposed project.

With a checking balance of just over $400 and savings of $2,800 the NPIA does not have sufficient funds to hire a project coordinator, but members were hopeful one or two key community people could step forward and push the project to completion. A meeting Sept. 1 was tentatively set to enlist volunteer leaders, with anyone interested urged to contact the NPIA.

The NPIA is incorporated as a non-profit entity and can create a Public Development Authority [PDA] that would enable it to accept donations and raise funds through grants and other means without raising the ire of the IRS. The PDA could then administer the on-going costs of operating a water tower.

In other business it was reported the east-west trail planned in Ocean Park will be delayed until 2005. The Department of Transportation will not be able to begin construction this fall as originally thought.

The WPA is working on a drainage system in Ocean Park and is the final stages of obtaining easements, according to Morrow.

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