Roland Water Tower Update, Winter 2020

Photo courtesy of RPCF

By Mary Page Michel

Does it feel like the Roland Park Community Foundation (RPCF) has been giving updates on the Roland Water Tower for about 10 years? It should, because we have! Even a decade ago, we knew that one of the first steps in saving this iconic neighborhood structure was to create a design that would detail the work that needs to be done. For the first time since we began this process, we now know that phase is nearly complete.

As a reminder, last June, the City hired JMT Architecture to create the design drawings for the restoration of the tower. Over the past five months, JMT has provided updates to Tom McCracken, our owner’s representative. In October, the firm submitted the final design drawings to the Department of General Services, which is currently reviewing them. After they are accepted, the design drawings will be turned over to the RPCF and Lewis Contractors, which was recently hired by the RPCF to do the restoration work. Lewis will get estimates for the work and we will find out if there are more funds to be raised. Keep your fingers crossed that the amount of funds needed will be within our grasp. 

At the base of the Roland Water Tower is a small, City-owned park. In October, a group of eight volunteers formed a committee to manage the process to turn this area, which is currently surrounded by a chain link fence, into a well-loved community pocket park. The committee is made up of residents of Hoes Heights, Rolden and Roland Park, and includes master gardeners, community leaders, landscape designers and tree experts. The committee created a Request for Proposal that will soon be sent out to eligible landscape architecture firms. After a proposal has been accepted, the RPCF will hold a series of community charrettes—collaborative sessions—to make sure community stakeholders—residents, business owners and others affected by the park—have an opportunity to weigh in on what they would like this space to include. Stay tuned for more information.

In September, past supporters of the RPCF were treated to a donor appreciation event at one of the most lovely homes in Roland Park (pictured on the cover of this issue), which is owned by Kate and Tony Culotta. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Culottas for an absolutely fantastic evening spent strolling through their beautiful gardens and connecting with friends. The event included an update on the Roland Water Tower project with lots of pictures and stories. 

Tyler McPherson, 12-year-old grandson of Don McPherson and Ann Teaff, was one of the youngest attendees. He was so moved by the presentation that, after consulting with former Roland Park Civic League President Phil Spevak, he created a GoFund Me page, “Save the Falcons” (, to raise funds to restore the tower and create a permanent home for the peregrine falcons that have nested there for at least the past five years (read the fall issue for more information about our feathered friends). 

“Tyler showed maturity, enthusiasm, initiative and creativity in starting his project,” explains his proud grandfather.

What an inspiration Tyler is for all of us. He saw a worthwhile project and he acted. And, as of mid-November, he has raised $500 toward his $1,000 goal! Thank you, Tyler!

Mary Page Michel is chair of the board of the RPCF, a non-profit 501c(3) organization established in 1986 to preserve, maintain and improve the parks, streams, squares, trees and other green spaces in our community. Its mission is to benefit present and future generations of residents and stay true to the Olmsted Brother’s vision for this community.