Local landmark continues to serve village’s needs
By MIRIAM FINDER ANNENBERG
Rising over Rosemont stands the village’s iconic water tower, covered in boldly painted, stylized roses with the base depicted as a green stem. The water tower cemented itself as a village landmark upon its construction in 1982, after a rendering using the village’s eponymous rose caught the eye of the late former mayor, Donald E. Stephens.
Since it was first unveiled to the residents of Rosemont, the tower has twice been repainted, in 1990 and 1998, and undergone an intensive recoating process, leaving the sparkling Rosemont landmark easily spotted from throughout the village today.
“It was completely redone in 2006...We had it completely sandblasted off and redid it,” said Michael Raimondi, Rosemont Public Works director. “Then last winter we put another clear coat on it, so it looks freshly painted.”
When the water tower was built in 1982, it wasn’t the first of its kind to service Rosemont. An older water tower stood close by as the new tower was erected, taken down once the new tower was in place. Mark Wrzeszcz, an engineer with Christopher Burke Engineering, said it is likely the old tower lacked the necessary capacity to serve the Rosemont area, so a new tower was needed.
In 2006, the village undertook a significant project ensuring the longevity of the tower and its iconic roses. Village of Rosemont officials worked with Rosemont-based Christopher Burke Engineering on fielding bids for the tower with the goal of maintaining the elevated structure, along with its bright colors and intricate design for years to come.
“We’re the village engineers, so we assisted them with it,” said Wrzeszcz.
The project began by sandblasting the tower’s exterior to bare metal, after which the original rose design was sketched back onto the tower using photographs as reference. The design was then filled in and covered in a long-lasting finishing coat. The pattern of the design required six different colors, which those working on the project applied in two layers, making two rotations around the circular tower to create and lock in the design.
According to Raimondi, the paint was to last 10 years without requiring any upkeep. Just about 10 years later, the village added a clear coat to ensure the paint’s continued wear.
“It’s the cheapest way to go if everything holds up underneath that,” Raimondi said. “It’s only going to protect the longevity of the paint job.”
The repainting project took place from June 2006 to November 2006, during which time a canopy was built out from the base of the tower and across the drive-through lanes at the nearby McDonald’s, preventing dust and debris from escaping the worksite and interfering with the neighboring business.
Even if inconvenient, any work to the tower benefitted any close-by businesses. The tower holds 500,000 gallons of water, storing water that pressurizes the entire Rosemont water system, used by businesses and residents across the village. The water comes from Lake Michigan to the Rosemont water tower and Rosemont’s local pump station.
“The water comes from the main pump station, the Williams Street pump station,” Wrzeszcz said. The pump station is located under the Williams Street garage in Rosemont and serves the entire Rosemont area.
Structurally, Raimondi said he doesn’t foresee any needs for the water tower in the near future or the chance that the tower will need replacing, as was the case back in 1982.
Additionally, while Rosemont might field suggestions for upkeep to the water tower’s exterior in the future, such as wrapping the tank in its signature design rather than repainting, there are no plans to alter the images adorning the tower.
“It’s a signature piece of our town,” Raimondi said. “Everybody around that flies in or that’s in the Chicago area, they all know Rosemont by the tower.”