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July 24, 2014

Let private funding for ketchup bottle flow

Think ketchup, and hamburgers and french fries immediately come to mind. And Collinsville.

The Brooks Catsup bottle-inspired water tower on the edge of the city is iconic roadside art from 1949 that has caught the fancy of people from around the world. The bottle even has a fan club and a festival.

But now the bottle is up for sale along with a warehouse, its future uncertain. Thoughts are turning to how to protect it, maybe buy it.

This is definitely a landmark worth securing. But people should not expect the government to fund it. Local and state governments already have their plates full. And efforts to buy the catsup bottle should be a privately funded, just as it was in the mid-1990s when groups and individuals raised $77,000 to paint and preserve it.

Renovation and ongoing care of the Veterans' Fountain in downtown Belleville is an example of private effort; upgrading the turf at the Belleville High School District 201 athletic fields is another.

Maybe the ketchup bottle is a big enough project that a public-private partnership might be considered, but first the private sector has to develop a plan for the tower then lead the way.

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