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Smiley, Facebook Cause Célèbre

UPDATE: Feb. 17, 2009, a sad day for Smiley. “After repeated stays of execution during the past two years, the Grand Forks City Council decided Tuesday to pull the switch on the 77-year-old water tower.” The rest of the story here.

UPDATE: Smiley gets a reprieve…On Feb. 2, “Council members spent more than an hour Monday discussing the old tower before voting 4-3 to seek bids to for saving it.”

Scrap metal or cause célèbre? The Grand Forks citizenry is choosing sides over the Smiley issue with the nostaligic facing off against the practical…..on Facebook!?

A former Grand Forks resident, created the Facebook group “Save Mr. Smiley from Demolition” in 2006 when the City Council started talking seriously about scrapping the smiler for good.

And it was a quick social networking success. Noted in this article from the Grand Forks Herald,

Within the first two weeks, about 400 members had already signed on. After City Council members indicated on Monday that they favored tearing down Smiley, the group now has more than 1,000 members.

Sounds like a good idea, but… since the issue is really about money, it is a shame that the effort did not include an opportunity to donate. That way, the tower’s fanbase could put money where their smiling mouths are.

Who’s Smiling Now?

Grand Fork-ers (North Dakota) are ambivalent about the future of their two-sided smiling/winking water tower, despite the fact that it hasn’t held water in years. Now, city leaders are struggling with the rising cost of indecision–about 108% higher in just two years. (Makes that winking seem more like mocking!) Now this is the sort of infrastructure stimulus project that could put a smile on the face of We-The-People. From the Jan. 26, 2009 Grand Forks Herald,

New estimates show it would cost about $396,000 to save the old Grand Forks water tower with a painted smiley face and winking eye.

That would extend its life about 20 years. Demolishing it would cost an estimated $99,000.

The tower’s paint is falling off in large chunks and it has held no water for nearly a decade. It was built nearly 80 years ago.

But for some, it’s a valued symbol. Councilman Doug Christensen has said it’s “like talking about somebody’s cousin.”

Demolition has been discussed for years. In 2006, the cost of demolition was estimated to be $50,000 and the cost of renovation $190,000.

The photo is from this post on the Seven Wonders of Grand Forks at The The Blue Skunk Blog (which also includes the fantastic “Sewage Lift Stations named after newspaper columnists.”