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Artist needed for design on new city water tower

One local artist will have the opportunity to have their work shown on a big scale for years to come when the new city water tower is constructed downtown.

The new one million-gallon tower is expected to be built near the site of the existing tower at the intersection of Newton Avenue and Fountain Street. Different from the previous tower at the site, the new tower will be a sphere-shaped steel tank on a narrow steel base.

ArtWalk Albert Lea, an effort to create more public art in the community, posted on its website last week that the initiative and the Main Street Program have been invited to lead a call for artists to design an image that will wrap around the tower.

The image should reflect the community of Albert Lea and what makes it special, such as shopping, lake life, boat rides, fishing, wildlife or other things.

The image could be repeated on each half of the spherical part of the tower or be a continuous image around the whole tower. The words “Albert Lea” must be included in the submission, and the submission must not have more than eight colors.

Albert Lea Main Street Director Holly Karsjens, who also helped start the ArtWalk Albert Lea program, said the city approached the organization to see if it had ideas on how to expand the design for the tower beyond the city logo that has historically been done.

She referenced a fun water tower in Sauk Rapids that looks like a hot air balloon as an example of another community that thought outside of the box with its tower.

“Art is meant to be shared and in this case, it would be reaching an uncountable amount of people not just within our community,” Karsjens said. “What a beautiful way to share your talents and help reflect what a beautiful community we live in.”

Designs should be submitted through the ArtWalk Albert Lea website at www.artwalkalbertlea.com by April 30.

She said details are still being worked out about how the winning design will be selected. Depending on how many designs are submitted, there could be a virtual vote. All of the final details will need to be approved by the Albert Lea City Council.

Albert Lea Director of Public Works Steven Jahnke said the city is awaiting final approval from the Minnesota Department of Health to proceed with the project. Once that is obtained, the city will advertise for the project in May with the intent to award the contract in June.

The existing tower would tentatively be demolished this fall with construction of the new tower beginning in the fall of 2021. Construction of the new tower would be complete in 2022 with the painting complete by June of 2023.

Jahnke emphasized if the final Minnesota Department of Health approval is not received this month, the schedule will shift back accordingly.

Karsjens said if anyone is interested in helping with other public art projects or has ideas about projects they would like to lead, they should also reach out on the website.