Supporters of the Roland Water Tower – a loveable, lighthouse-like landmark, built circa 1904 – got some lucrative news this week. The city spending board gave thumbs up to the idea of shifting $337,000 from one agency to another to help rehab the elegantly creaky tower, which is an official historic property, thanks in large part to handiwork of Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke. Estimated total cost to revamp the RWT: $1.2 million. (One troubling issue among many: a ton of burdensome bird poop from decades past pasted to the upper level. You’d have to pay me a lot to clean that up.)
The antique structure, situated on Roland Avenue at Evan’s Chapel Road, where Roland splits from University Parkway, is beloved by numerous Roland Park and Hampden residents, and those in between who sometimes refer to themselves as Roldenites.
I talked to Friends of the Roland Water Tower, Michael Falk and Cindy France, who are also friends and neighbors of each other on lower Roland Avenue. Their group has helped support the tower’s overhaul and raise awareness by organizing community events, including Tunes at the Tower in early summertime, a funky afternoon program featuring local music gigs and food vendors.
“It is heartening to see that the city is willing to find practical ways to make sure we don’t lose our distinctive architectural landmarks. The Roland Water Tower is iconic for people who live nearby, and it has great potential to serve as a gathering space and vantage point on the historical American city we call home,” says Falk, a professor of physics, material science, and engineering at Hopkins.
“I enjoy the sight of the water tower every day when I walk out my front door, even in its current state of disrepair,” says France, a paralegal by day, rock blogger by night. (Incidentally, France and her husband, Gregory Dohler, cleverly refer to Rolden as Hamroll.) “The agreement will get us that much closer to renovation. A renovated tower will reinvigorate the surrounding communities and provide all of us who live nearby with a daily dose of beauty.”
According to Patch.com, $337,000 is precisely the estimated sum that would be required to demolish the tower. You may recall the Maryland General Assembly approved a $250,000 bond bill for the restoration project last spring. Before Tower supporters can get their hands on this earmarked dough, the city must spend at least an equal amount on repairs…
If supporters can’t make the rehab happen by January 31, 2016, the city’s deal is void.
What does the tower mean to you?