City council votes to replace water tank and conduct repairs on Marfa Museum

MARFA — At Thursday’s meeting, the city council approved a motion to replace one of the city’s water storage tanks and then heard about the much needed repairs to the Marfa Museum.

The first new item of business for the council to consider was whether to repair or replace the leaking ground storage tank at the water plant. Michael Bruck from Maguire Iron put forth a proposal to replace the current tank with a steel-welded water tank.

At the moment, the city’s 55-year-old tank has four leaks. “If we just repaired those four areas, other areas would start leaking down the road,” Bruck said.

“It would be very expensive to go in, clean the tank and then try patching the area, different areas. It’s just so old, the metal’s so thin that’s why it’s been leaking out,” Bruck said. “If I were to go in now where we normally clean it with 40 PSI, it would knock holes all through the tank.”

It will cost approximately $750,000 to replace the tank. That number could go up depending on whether Maguire Iron needs to improve the foundation upon which the new tank would rest. “That foundation is 55 years old. We don’t know if it’s a poor foundation,” Bruck said. “Truthfully, foundations built 50 years ago were built better than they are today. So it may be fine, but we don’t know.”

Bruck said the water department, with help from his team, should set up three or four smaller temporary tanks to hold the city’s water before the original tank is demolished. That part of the project is not included in the $750,000 figure.

The city would need to make the first payment only after Maguire Iron finished the project, and the tank could be paid off over two years. In total, it will take two to three months to complete the project.

City Manager Mandy Roane said the city could probably use some of the funds the city will be getting through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan to finance the project.

When asked what the life expectancy on the tank is, Bruck said, “If you take care of a tank and maintain it … an iron-steel tank will last forever.”

Water Supervisor Chuck Salgado said he supports replacing the city’s current tank. The council then unanimously passed the motion to have Maguire Iron replace the tank, with the price of the project not to exceed $750,000 unless Maguire Iron determines that the foundation of the tank needs to be rebuilt.
The council then heard again from Bruck who was looking to modify the city’s current contract for a maintenance program for the city’s water storage tanks with Maguire Iron. Right now the city has a contract extending until 2023. In the end, the council decided to table this item until the July 29 meeting.

The council next discussed the needed repairs to the Marfa Museum. Mayor Pro Tem Irma Salgado said that the building is on its last leg. “It is horrible. That thing is going to give out,” she said. “The walls are separating. The ceiling is separating from the walls. Same thing with the window sills. They’re all separating.”

Salgado said that some of the damage is on parts of the building that the city had fixed two years ago for around $50,000. “This is part of the stuff that we already repaired once,” she said.

Terry Norman with the Marfa Museum then outlined the problems with the structure. He said, “The core issue is the museum is an old building, built in the late 1800s in adobe,” and as that adobe is exposed to water, the structure begins to deteriorate.

Norman said that there are a number of areas within the building that need repairs. Parts of the exposed adobe need to be re-covered. Certain areas of the roof need to be patched. And the floor, which is sinking, needs to be leveled.

One engineer who looked at the museum suggested digging about three feet into the east wall of the building and pouring a concrete foundation under the flooring. “Once you do that you stabilize the building,” Norman said.

The council then passed a motion to authorize the city manager to solicit individuals to begin working on repairs for the Marfa Museum. There was also talk of looking into possible grants to fund further improvements to the building.