Wildcat Paint Job a Towering Sign of Pride

By Pat Johnson | Jul 31, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson PAWS TO REFLECT: Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utilities Authority Director Earl Sutton found an opportunity to be creative on the Mathistown Road tower to depict the Pinelands Regional HS mascot and raise community pride.

Little Egg Harbor — Little Egg Harbor is showing its “Wildcat Pride” in a big way.

The Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utilities Authority has painted one of the town’s water towers the familiar green and gold – the colors of the Pinelands Regional School District. The wildcat mascot and phrase “Wildcat Pride” looks over the section of Mathistown Road near the Ocean County library.

“It was my decision along with MUA Superintendent Michael DiFrancia when we were talking about putting something there. We asked Pinelands for permission and we decided it would develop better community pride,” said Earl Sutton, MUA executive director. “And I really like the color.”

Sutton said he has gotten nothing but positive feedback on the design and tower.

A company in Tennessee does the stencil and Allied Painting, the company contracted to paint the tower, specializes in doing artwork on towers.

“It’s amazing the work that’s done to figure out the placement and scale of the artwork and then complete it 145 feet up in the air,” Sutton added.

The second tower that’s slated to be painted this year is the one nearest to the MUA building on Radio Road. “That artwork is going to be unbelievable. It will be the talk of everywhere,” Sutton said. That project was going out to bid on Monday, July 29.

Another tower near the Sea Oaks Adult Community on Frog Pond Road also will need to be painted in a few years. “We power washed it for $6,000 and it looks good. We gained five or six years on that one,” Sutton said.

Painting the Mathistown Road tower inside and out cost around $600,000, he said, and took four months. First, the 500,000-gallon tower had to be emptied and recharged into the ground. It also involved a great deal of planning to make sure the water pressure in all the lines in that part of the town were kept up in case of emergency.

“We met with the local fire companies first and they were unbelievably cooperative,” said Sutton. “Mike DiFrancia was available night and day, listening to fire dispatch and police dispatch to be proactive if a situation arose.” If more water was needed to fight a fire, DiFrancia was able to reroute water from different sources, he explained. “Mike had some sleepless nights. It was a lot of responsibility.”

The new treatment plant conceived for the Mathistown Road site has been awarded to TKT Construction and will take a year to complete. The cost is $4,750,000 and will be paid for through no-cost and low-cost loans from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank. “Seventy-five percent borrowed is at zero interest and the rest is at 2 percent for 30 years,” said Sutton. “We are adding some debt, but we can’t afford not to do it.”

In the latest MUA newsletter sent to township residents, Sutton outlined a utility rate increase amounting to $6 per quarter or $24 a year. The reasons for the increase include the painting of the two towers for $1.1 million and the total reconstruction of water and sewer lines intersecting with Twin Lake Boulevard estimated at $2.8 million.

The authority said the cost to treat sewage by the Ocean County Utilities Authority is $450,000 a quarter or $1.8 million annually and recently, because of heavy rainfalls, the OCUA charged the township an additional $50,000. For this reason, the authority notified the public that hooking up an outdoor shower, sump pump or gutters to the sanitary sewer system is illegal. The MUA will be conducting tests in manholes to attempt to find these illegal hookups.

Sutton also asked people to be mindful of what they pour down the drain or flush down the toilet. So-called disposable wipes are not biodegradable and have forced the authority to install costly shredding equipment called Muffin Monsters at some of the pump stations. Pouring grease down the drain or the toilet also clogs the system. Residents are urged to let cooking grease cool, then pour it into the garbage, not down the drain.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

 

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