Cary News: Opinion

Relocating Cary’s fire station No. 1

Ned Perry: I started as Cary’s fire chief in October of 1975. When I came to Cary, the powers that be had envisioned that Cary would never grow past U.S. 1. They told me not to worry about buying ladders because we’re never going to allow them to build any building in Cary taller than three stories high.

At that time, the Number One fire station on Academy Street was the only one in operation. Once I built numbers Two, Three and Four, then I got the town council to let me relocate Number One. We remodeled the original Number One building from a fire station to administrative offices.

I had a friend who was a SAS employee named Tim Wilson. One day I said, “Tim, I need a place to build a fire station.”

He took out a map of 75 acres and said, “Where you want to put it.”

I said, “Right here, on the corner of North Harrison and Cary Parkway.”

He said, “How much land do you want?” I drew off about three acres and he said, “It’s yours.”

It was a perfect location. I got to talking to Dr. (James) Goodnight of SAS Institute. He was concerned about the appearance of the building. Fire stations always have to have big doors for fire trucks. He said, “I don’t like the looks of those big doors for the trucks. Can’t you do something about that? I know you got to have a door, but I don’t want to be able to see it from the road. Another thing, I want an A roof as opposed to a flat roof and put in good landscaping.”

So we got to looking at how to turn this station 90 degrees. He said, “Why don’t you come out onto Cary Parkway?”

I said, “For one thing, there are two pieces of property between the one you’ve given us and Cary Parkway.”

He turned to his real estate man sitting in the meeting and said, “Get that for them.” It was over with, not even a minute conversation.

They bought those two pieces of property. They brought me a deed for six and one-half acres and gave it to the town on three conditions: turn the building 90 degrees, put an A roof on the station, and landscape heavily. They appraised the lot at $1.55 million and I built a $1.3 million facility on it.

I got the reputation of building a Taj Mahal. It’s very well built and probably as functional as any fire station I’ve ever visited.