Heated discussion over repainting Iowa town's 'hot and cold' water towers

UPDATED: Some folks in Granger feel anything but lukewarm about their water towers.

And they proved it during an often-heated discussion at Wednesday night's Granger City Council meeting.

About 40 residents showed up to ask the council to save the words that have been on the town's two water towers for about 30 years. One tower says "hot," the other "cold."

The City Council decided last month to replace the words with a sleek, new city logo. But about 160 residents have since signed a petition to overturn the council's decision.

The water towers may have been painted that way as a joke, but now they represent the town, residents at the meeting said.

After hearing from the residents, the council agreed to consider a design incorporating the new logo and the "hot" and "cold." The council will meet again Monday to discuss the issue.

Chuck Fuson, who has lived in Granger since 1941, said that when he moved there, no one knew what Granger was. Now people know: It's the town with hot and cold water towers.

Pointing to the town's new tag line "Believe it" he paused.

"What are we to believe?" he asked.

Mayor Tom Schenk said he didn't think the town would lose anything by painting over the words.

It's a stretch to describe the towers' appearance as historic or unique, some council members said. Many towns have towers with hot and cold painted on them, and though the words have been there 30 years, the town itself will celebrate its 125th anniversary next month.

"I don't think our town is hot and cold water towers," Schenk said before the meeting. "It's more than that."

Granger, with an estimated population of 1,054 in 2008, has doubled in the last six years, Schenk said, and he expects it to grow even faster over the next decade. City officials are trying to attract businesses to the community, and Schenk said they need a new image to do that.

That's why the city paid Push Branding, an Urbandale branding, design and media firm, $4,500 to design a logo that reflects both the agricultural history and the green future of Granger, he added.

But marketing is exactly why the wording should be kept, resident Bill Grell told the council. "We are deciding who we are and who we're going to be for the next 25 years," he said.

Granger is a rural, friendly town, one that should not try to compete with Des Moines' suburbs, Grell said. Keeping the hot and cold water towers symbolizes that this is a small community with a good sense of humor, he said.

Only two people at the meeting spoke in favor of painting the new logo a stylized green and gold "G'' with a leaf.

The joke that led to the towers, visible from Iowa Highway 141, being painted began in the early 1980s with a gas station owner in town. Local folks say out-of-towners commonly asked him why Granger had two water towers, and he used to explain that one was for hot and one was for cold.
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