The water tower on Maynard Road provided a picturesque background for Shannon Glazer and her friends when they built bonfires in the Cary High School parking lot before football games in 1975.
The tower, which is known for honoring the school’s senior class with painted numbers of their graduating year, has been a part of the backdrop for decades.
So Glazer never thought she’d need to return to a football game to collect signatures as part of a petition to save the tower from destruction. Yet that’s where she was last fall.
“I hoped the town would keep it because it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
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On Wednesday, Glazer and several other Cary High School graduates found some welcoming news during a public meeting on the future of the water tower.
Cary town staff told residents they plan to recommend that the Cary Town Council keep the water tower as part of the town’s efforts to expand water storage capacity in central Cary.
The recommendation comes after independent engineers reported that Cary would save $2.7 million over the next 30 years by preserving the tank, which holds about 500,000 gallons of water. The town could then build a new tank elsewhere that could store 2 million gallons of water.
“We worked with (the independent engineers) throughout the process,” town engineer Dave Hallgren said. “We’ve reviewed everything they’ve provided and, in this case, come to the same conclusion.”
The public meeting gave residents a chance to offer written feedback to council members before they consider the staff’s recommendation on Thursday, July 17.
Carla Michaels, who graduated from Cary High School in 1973, filled out a comment form urging the council to keep the tower. She said she was glad the council waited until an independent report was finished before making a decision.
“Change can be good,” Michaels said. “But if it’s not done right, it can be painful for folks who have been here a while.”
Jeanna Benoy still gets emotional thinking about the water tank. The 1972 Cary High School graduate fought back tears when telling her friends about returning to Cary after living elsewhere for 40 years.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew where I was,” Benoy said. “I’m home.”
Benoy led the effort to gather more than 1,800 signatures on an online petition to save the water tower.
David Martin, who graduated from Cary High in 1945, said he knew a preservation campaign would work. For one thing, the tower still has life in it.
“I came up the hard way when you didn’t throw anything out,” said Martin, 86. “It’s not worn out.”
Martin said the tower deserves to continue standing as a part of Cary’s history. He credits Benoy and other residents for prompting Cary to commission the report.
“I think it’s great that old classmates could get together and salvage something worth saving,” he said.