Don’s Blog: Water Tower


From the blog of Don Frantz, District 2 Cary Town Council Member. Photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – I love what gets folks fired up in this town – it speaks to who we are – what our values are.

Demise of the Water Tower

I’m sure that by now everyone has heard of the town’s intentions to remove the iconic water tower at Cary High School. I am sure that you have heard about it because we are hearing from you…a lot of you. Emails, a petition, phone calls and even folks coming by the shop to talk about it. You are upset. This is important to you.

When I first learned of this in a staff meeting a couple of weeks ago, I too was shocked. “No way!” I said. “That tower means so much to the Cary High community – folks will be very upset”. “Why?”

And then town staff explained why.

The tower has reached the end of its life cycle. The steel is rusting and the costs to repair and repaint the structure are not cost effective when compared to the construction and lifespan of a new tower.

The town’s needs have also changed since this tower was constructed 50 years ago. The town now needs a million gallon tank to better serve existing residents and plan for future demands (the existing tank is 500,000 gallons). The existing tower site cannot accommodate a larger structure.

The town has acquired a site behind East Cary Middle that can accommodate the new tower and plans to begin construction in the next 3-4 years.

We also cannot just empty it and leave it. Believe it or not the tower needs the weight of the water to help hold it down. An empty water tower in a hurricane would be bad.

This is the most cost effective and fiscally responsible manner in which to proceed.

But it’s pretty darn tough to put a price on who we are.

Given the community feedback (Love ya’ll CHS family! ;-) and that we do have a lot of time to work on this, that’s what we are going to do. The town will be exploring options that could possibly include keeping the tank or possibly an alternate display of the class of 20XX.

Keep in mind that with alternatives to that which professional engineers deem most efficient might come cost. How much is keeping the tower worth to you? And do you think the parents of Green Hope High School seniors want to help pay for you to keep it? ;-)

My lovely wife, Lisa and five of our six children graduated from Cary High School. Liz will be the class of 2019. It just wouldn’t be the same if that tower wasn’t there…

It is kinda funny though. Propose a new tower in a neighborhood and folks will protest it. Propose taking an old tower out, and they protest it. I love this job ;-)

Hang in there folks, we’ll give it our best and if any of you creative folks have an idea, please let us know.

6 replies
  1. SEB
    SEB says:

    This just finishes what WPSS started. Teens in my neighborhood were moved from CHS to Green Hope, then Panther Creek then back to CHS. My daughter, NC Scholar and CHS honor grad class of 2012, couldn’t care less about Cary spirit.

  2. Brent
    Brent says:

    I think the water tower should remain and become the conference room where Town Council holds its closed sessions. ;-)

  3. Bob Cassell
    Bob Cassell says:

    It appears to be a given that the water tower has to go. We need a little creative thinking here. Basically what will be lost is the recognition of Cary High, its students and the long history of education in Cary. Something like a “Water Tower Scholarship” might surfice. Support it by a grant from the Town equal to the cost of annually repainting the letters and numbers and public subscription. This could be as meaningful and productive. It probably actually is now or will be a violation of our Town sign ordinance anyway!

  4. Karl Murphy
    Karl Murphy says:

    Make it a sign. Since cary has some of the most restrictive anti small business sign regulations in the country….make it a sign and sell advertising on it to the business community.

    My guess is the economic problems would go away quickly…

    Having been around Cary a bit…not sure you would get reelected with that proposal…

  5. Zach Hayes
    Zach Hayes says:

    I live walking distance to the tower, so I see it on a regular basis. I have always thought it was neat that the town painted a tribute to the graduating class of Cary High. However, maybe it’s time for a new tradition to begin and another class to put their stamp on the history of Cary High for the next 50 years of graduates. Instead of looking at this as a loss, CHS should look at it as an opportunity to create a new, interesting way to honor each year’s graduating class.

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, there are already several antennas on the tower, so I imagine the town has been getting payments for cell carriers for some time now.

  6. Gary
    Gary says:


    Contact all the cell phone companies and rent the top of it for antennas. Lease payments cover maintenance and annual paintings.

    Contact National Weather Service and rent the top of it for the official monitoring station. Present RDU location and its terrain does not always match what it really is in Triangle.

    Contact WUNC and see if they needs an additional HDTV transmitter location. Rent space!

    House the Wake School board up there; they need some fresh air.

    Convert it to housing:

    Put it out for bids; zone it for housing, first!

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