More than 2,200 have signed on with relish in support of painting the Hamburg water tower like a hamburger. Now, the woman behind the initiative got the OK from the Town Board to start raising money for it.
"Every time I drive by that water tower on the Thruway, it begs to be painted," Chris Hannotte Luly said of the blue tower on Howard Road near Southwestern Boulevard and South Park Avenue.
The town conducted a structural integrity test to ensure the tower is sound and can be painted, and its existing paint was tested for lead -- which was found.
That will increase the cost of painting it, which may be as much as $1 million, Luly said. The cost will be funded with donations, not taxpayer dollars.
She said she plans to put together a three-to five-person board, to help with planning and fundraising. She said raising money could take as long as three years.
"I'd like to have a lot of fun-raising events, not just fundraising events," she said.
Signatures on the petition include everyone who can see the tower from their yards and 350 local businesses, she said.
Letters of support have been written by the Hamburg Kiwanis, Hamburg Village Business Association, Buffalo Niagara Visitors Bureau and Leadership Buffalo, Luly told the Town Board Monday night.
While the Town Board authorized fundraising to begin, the board did not authorize any work to begin before the board approves a final plan and design.
Luly said she has contacted four graphic artists and invited them to submit a possible design for the tower. The community will be invited to weigh in on the design, although the final decision would be up to the Town Board.
Luly, a manager with the state Education Department, said she got the idea of painting the tower after talking with her husband, who said water towers in other parts of the country are painted differently, such as the tower south of downtown Collinsville, Ill., that looks like a Brooks Catsup bottle.
She thought painting the tower to look like a hamburger would be a great idea for Hamburg, known as the burger's birthplace. The annual Burgerfest commemorates the burger's creation in 1885 at the Hamburg Fair.
This is the second time the town has thought about painting the town-owned tower. Board members couldn't muster enough votes in 1993 in favor of painting the tower to look like a hamburger.