By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Nearly one year after the High Bridge Water Tower was closed for emergency repairs, the Parks Department has announced the tower will not reopen to the public until major structural repairs are made in the historic space.
When those repairs will be completed is unclear as the department must procure $2 million in funding for repair of the roof, new windows, flooring for the platform and observation deck, handrails and stone masonry repair, according to Parks spokesman Phil Abramson.
The department is still waiting for a final engineering assessment of the historic tower, which overlooks the scenic Harlem River along 174th Street near Amsterdam Avenue. They hope to have the assessment done in June.
"There was an emergency repair last year, but it did not make a long-term fix and did not fix anything that wasn't an emergency," Abramson said, noting that the emergency repairs "triggered the engineering inspection."
In addition to structural issues, the Parks Department is also looking into adding new window guards "to protect visitors from the very low-set window openings" as well as a new carillon bell at the top of the structure, if funding allows. The previous bell was last rung in 1957, according to the department.
Jennifer Hoppa, administrator for Northern Manhattan Parks, said it might take years for the repairs to be made and was unlikely the repairs could be timed for the opening of the newly restored High Bridge, a pedestrian bridge connecting Manhattan to the Bronx across the Harlem River.
The work on the bridge is part of the overall $96 million restoration of the surrounding High Bridge Park.
"Remember, your elected officials set aside funding for these repairs," she said at the May Community Board 12 Parks and Cultural Affairs committee meeting. "It would help if you let them know it's a priority."