A small town fuss erupts: Does Waxhaw have a ‘water tower’ or ‘water tank’?

The water tower – or is that “tank”? – is easy to spot from Main Street in Waxhaw.
The water tower – or is that “tank”? – is easy to spot from Main Street in Waxhaw. Observer File Photo

Town leaders in Waxhaw want to designate their water tank as a historic landmark, but the idea has ignited a bigger debate that is far from settled: Is it a water tower or a water tank?

The Union County Weekly says that’s the topic town officials spent most of their time on at a June 13 meeting. They came away with no clear consensus.

Attorney Chaplin Spencer acknowledged at the meeting that “everybody” calls it a water tank, but he recommended they call it a water tower for consistency with a listing on the 1991 national registry, reported the Weekly.

Others disagreed.

“We should call it what the local people call it,” Commissioner Paul Fitzgerald was quoted as saying. “It is the tank. Not a tower. It is a tank on top of the tower.”

Either way, locals feel the tower/tank is an important part of local history. It even has its own Facebook page as Waxhaw Watertower.

Waxhaw’s website says the silver tower in downtown Waxhaw “has served as a beacon for many citizens.” The 49,000-gallon stainless steel tank was built in 1940 and was still operational until new ground water tanks were built on Sims Road in Waxhaw.

Commissioners John Hunt and James Warner ultimately agreed with Fitzgerald to call it the Waxhaw Water Tank, while Brenda Stewart and Fred Burrell wanted to take a city attorney’s advice and call it a tower, the Weekly reported.

Town residents bristled at any suggestion of changing the structure’s unofficial name.

“I have lived in Waxhaw my entire life (46 years). I have NEVER heard the water tower referred to as the water tank. It has been the ‘Waxhaw Watertower’ or Waxhaw’s Watertower,” posted Tammy Bigham Brink on the Union Weekly’s website.

“I have lived here for over 12 years. … I have NEVER, I repeat NEVER heard ANYBODY call it a tank. Our town officials need to just STOP with these asinine ideas and leave things alone. Quit trying to keep up appearances with the neighboring communities and just be the same bucolic little Waxhaw that we all moved here for,” wrote Kevin Johnson.