Cayce water tank could become local landmark

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 22, 2013 

— The Columbia area may get a new landmark soon.

Plans are taking shape to transform an 88-foot-tall water tank in Cayce on U.S. 321 near I-26 and I-77 into a golf mural with a Gamecock logo entwined in the city’s name and on a golf ball on top.

That design reflects the University of South Carolina golf team practice range and other facilities for the sport underneath the tank.

The new look could become a “signature art piece” for the Midlands, Lexington County administrator Joe Mergo said.

He envisions it as a beacon for motorists driving in the southwest corner of the area and passengers on aircraft to and from nearby Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

“It’s taking something useful and making it beautiful,” Mergo said. “That theme fits the landscape there.”

Making it happen depends on a fund-raising drive that starts Monday.

Supporters want to raise $250,000 to cover the cost of applying the mural to the 2-million-gallon tank as well as make a donation to Harvest Hope Food Bank. Contributions are a minimum of $25 and can be made only online.

Creating art while benefitting a charity is “a phenomenal project,” Mayor Elise Partin said.

The mural would be more elaborate than the Gamecock logo on another water tank in downtown Columbia that overlooks tennis courts in the Wheeler Hill neighborhood on the edge of the USC campus.

For now, few other of the roughly 40 water tanks in Lexington and Richland counties are likely to display anything more than community emblems.

One in Batesburg-Leesville has a chicken that’s the symbol of the South Carolina Poultry Festival, an annual community gathering. And some Town Council members in Lexington looked at painting the top of one overlooking soccer fields with the sport’s ball before backing off.

But officials at the Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Commission have turned down requests to paint their tanks with the colors of local high school athletic teams in the parts of Lexington County the agency serves.

Steve Mann, chief executive officer at the commission, is loath to display favoritism that he worries could invite constant graffiti that drives up the tab for upkeep.

“We don’t want to see someone climb a tank and do what they shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

The 30-year-old tank in Cayce will have a 14-foot ribbon of black at its bottom to make it difficult to deface the mural above if would-be artists scale a fence surrounding it.

Columbia utilities director Joey Jaco is concerned about “opening the door” to a multitude of requests for decorating tanks that could create conflict over the choices.

But West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens is receptive to the idea of making tanks more eye-catching. “It could be neat,” he said. “It could catch on.”

The new look for the Cayce tank is the brainchild of Will Bryan, marketing director for the Genesis Studios.

It’s something Mergo encouraged as Bryan developed the plan in coordination with USC and Cayce officials.

A facelift for the tank fits in with Bryan’s goal of civic beautification that assists charity, a project he calls “public works of HeART.”

The effort could generate up to $50,000 for the food bank that feeds families in need, according to preliminary estimates.

“It’s a way to give our area more personality while also doing good,” Bryan said.

If you give

Go to to make a donation for the Cayce water tank. A $25 minimum is required. It is not tax-deductible.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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