CARY — The town has embarked on the process that will determine the fate of the water tower near Cary High School.
The aging tower, constructed in 1966, is famous for bearing the words “class of …” each year in honor of local high school seniors.
In the coming months, engineering firm Hazen & Sawyer is set to suss out the details of a town plan to expand water capacity in central Cary, from cost to local water demand. The results could determine whether the local landmark has a chance to survive.
Earlier this year, news of the potential demolition of the water tower drew cries of protest from Caryites near and far, including high school students who want to see their class year painted on the landmark. An online petition to save the tower claims more than 1,500 signatures.
The town has warned that keeping the oldest of the town’s six water towers could be an unnecessary cost. Downtown homes and businesses need more capacity than the tower can provide, and the tower needs significant maintenance work.
This combination could make it cheaper to completely replace the tower than to keep it up.
But the plan isn’t settled yet. Cary staff are working with four options. The town could:
• Repair the old tower.
• Rehabilitate the old tower while building a new tower at a separate site.
• Replace the old tower with a new structure on the same site near Cary High School.
• Or demolish the tower and build a new tank on a different site.
To help the town decide, Hazen & Sawyer would spend several months gathering data on each option.
“They’ll be looking at the financial end, and they’ll be looking at the wider (water) system, as far as what it can support, and how much storage we need,” said Dave Hallgren, utility engineer for the town.
Once the firm has drafted its technical report, the town will host a public meeting to discuss its findings. That kind of outreach is typical of utility projects, but town staff also have been keenly aware of the extra attention on the SE Maynard Road tank.
So far, the town has set aside $3.5 million for the water tower project; staff haven’t yet projected the final costs.
“We really need to wait and see what they’ll come up with,” Hallgren said.
The project likely would be completed within four years. For now, the town will wait on its consultant, which will receive up to $560,000 to design and administer the construction of the tank; the deal is still in negotiation
Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary