June 19, 2014

Acorn Hill, the children’s creative play area in Lake Roland, opened on June 18th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and other elected officials, construction workers, parents and grandparents, lots of children and Lake Roland Nature Council volunteers.

“I’ve never seen a public works project turn out so aesthetically pleasing,” said Kamenetz, referring to the refurbishment of Lake Roland. “[The view] is just breathtaking.” He said what began as “kind of a dream … has become a fantastic amenity” for Baltimore County.

In stressing the important role that the area communities played in creating the children’s park, the County Executive said, “The perseverance of the community made sure that [Acorn Hill] happened … This will bring in young parents and their children, who will develop a generational love for the park.”

Following Kamentz’ remarks, Councilpersons Vicki Almond and David Marks presented Helga Morrow with a Baltimore County Council resolution congratulating the Nature Council’s Acorn Hill committee on the opening of the children’s park.

Acorn Hill Resolution

Councilpersons Vicki Almond and David Marks congratulate Nature Council volunteer Helga Morrow on the opening of Acorn Hill children’s creative play area in Lake Roland. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz watches on.

Morrow, Gail Stetten, and the Acorn Hill committee, together with the late Peter Maloney, first president of the Nature Council, envisioneda place wherechildren could learn through imaginative play.

Working with Julie Higgins, a landscape architect with the firm Hord|Coplan|Macht, Morrow, Stetten and Nature Council and Park volunteers designed a place in the park where children, their parents, grandparents and friends can experience the natural environment and history of Lake Roland and Lake Roland.

Various play stations with names such as ‘Hollins Station’, ‘Reservoir Theater’, ‘Miner’s Cottage’ and ‘Bellona Factory’ reflect the rich history of the park, with its factories, mines, reservoir and railroad.

The stations contain structures for climbing, swinging, exploring and balancing and are designed to help children learn to recognize the interaction between people and nature while developing physical skills.

Initial funding came from a state bond bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Delegates Dana Stein and Dan Morhaim. Baltimore County generously provided material, labor and expertise to enable the concept to come to fruition.

Acorn Hill also has picnic and quiet areas, a butterfly hatchery, bird sanctuary, and spaces for art projects and theater productions.  A critter path has been created nearby where children can discover the rich diversity of animal life in and under dead logs and where they can learn about protecting animal and plant habitats.

Ranger Shannon Davis and her team have planned programs that emphasize environmental conservation and exploration of animal and plant habitats. Volunteer naturalists will help with demonstrations and programs.

Getting to the park is easy – Lake Roland is the only County nature park with public transportation; the light rail Falls Road stop is at the end of the boardwalk leading into the park. Or, you can drive and park at the light rail stop or at the parking lot just past the Lake Roland dam

If you haven’t been to Lake Roland lately, come visit and bring some young friends or relatives with you.

 By Nancy Worden Horst