Tipp City Council voted 5-2 Monday, March 6, to locate a new 500,000-gallon water tower for the low service area serving the downtown near the city service center north of Main Street.

The other site being considered was property off South Hyatt Street, a location opposed by area residents.

Council heard from Fire Chief Steve Kessler about water for firefighting before its vote.

Councilman John Kessler and Mayor Pat Hale voted “no.” Voting “yes” were council members Carrie Arblaster, Katelyn Berbach, Joe Gibson, Matt Owen and Tom Merritt.

Both the proposed service center and South Hyatt towers would have a 500,000-gallon tank, up from the 350,000 gallon tank at the aging Bowman Avenue water tower the new tower would replace.

The Bowman Avenue tower fire flow is 1,900 gallons per minute.

The service center tower site would provide 300-gallons per minute more water than the existing tower while the Hyatt Street site would provide an additional 800-gallons per minute, council was told at its Feb. 21 meeting.

“As a fire chief, any time I can get extra water, I am going to take it,” Chief Kessler said. A firefighter for decades, he added the department has never run totally out of water while fighting a fire.

He said an added 300 gallons a minute would provide one hose line for firefighters while the 800 gallons a minute would mean an aerial truck.

“That’s a lot of difference in fighting fires downtown and so forth. I concede this amount may not be enough even at that to protect the downtown depending on weather, winds, that kind of condition,” the chief added.

 “My job is to take what you give me and do the best I can,” he said.

John Kessler said he was concerned that the 500 gallons a minute difference in water the towers could provide could be a critical issue down the road. “I realize there is some opposition to it but the needs of the few shouldn’t outweigh the needs of the many,” he said.

Council President Joe Gibson noted the tower discussion later in the meeting during council member comments. “I think we’re still safe,” he said.

Resident Pat Langley, who was among residents opposing the South Hyatt Street site, thanked council for its willingness to take another look at sites after opposition was voiced to the South Hyatt location.

“I think we have a viable alternative at the service center site,” he said.

City Manager Tim Eggleston said work would begin on planning for a tower for the service center site. The estimated $2.6 million project also would include a loop water main and increasing the size of a water line.

In other business Monday, Eggleston introduced Joanna Pittenger as the city’s new human resources manager and Tony Hunt as the new streets superintendent.

Council also heard a request from Jim Sommer of Needy Basket for it to consider supporting the organization by providing utility bill relief.

Gibson asked why the organization was seeking the relief at this time. Sommer said the organization, a nonprofit, was aware of city support of Community Services and the senior citizens center, including paying for the center utilities.

Eggleston said council agreed recently to waive utility connection fees for the new seniors center but had not decided on whether to pay for utilities at the new building.

Council also discussed in a work session a proposal from the Parks Advisory Board to ban smoking in city parks. Smoking now is prohibited in buildings. Council came to no agreement but said it would discuss the topic and ideas further including possibly designating smoking areas