NEW MARKET – Town Council members gave their approval Monday to buy a piece of land on Ship Street for $180,000.

Town Manager Todd Walters said the council members and town staff have been discussing purchasing the land for over a year and expect to use it as the site for a new water tower. Walters said the clock was running down on buying the property outright as their option was set to expire July 23.

Walters said the town extended the $5,000 option once, putting its total investment in the property at $10,000. As part of the agreement to purchase the land, Walters said the owner is taking that $10,000 off the total price, leaving the town with a $170,000 closing price.

“With the option running out, the feeling was we go ahead and purchase it and if something happens, that we don’t put a tank there, then we own almost five acres of land on Ship Street.”

Council members and Walters whittled down their options on space for the tank to two sites but, Walters said, the town never preferred the site at Rebel Park to Ship Street, which meets “multiple needs.”

One of the more pressing concerns the town had, Walters said, was finding property at the right elevation. The higher the land, the shorter the legs of the tower will have to be, which will help keep the cost down, Walters said.

Walters also said the location helps the town further its goal of improving visibility.

“We’re talking about our branding,” Walters said. “We’d be right beside a major interstate that 42,000 vehicles a day drive up and down.“

The town has advertised a request for a proposal to start looking for an agency to help develop a rebranding strategy — an important line item Walters fought to keep in the budget that council members passed.

Although initial geotechnical tests have been done to ensure the land is suitable for a water tower, much of the $3 million to $4 million project is still up in the air, Walters said, while the town applies for funding.

“Right now we are just waiting to see where the funding is coming from,” he said. “We don’t want to do that engineering work until we know where the funding is coming from.”

A big piece of that price tag — at least $100,000, Walters said — is for engineering.

Until funding questions are answered and more engineering is completed, Walters said the project doesn’t have a start date but he hoped to have more information soon.

“In a perfect world, if things just went great,” Walters said,” maybe this time next year we could be on to construction.”

– Contact Max Thornberry at