Plans Unveiled at Groundbreaking for Rockfield Park Water-Based Play Area

Funded by $150,000 American Water Charitable Foundation grant, the Chesapeake Sensory Plaza will be a nature-based play area highlighting the role of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

BEL AIR, Maryland (November 12, 2019) – The Town of Bel Air, Maryland American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association held a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the Chesapeake Sensory Plaza at Rockfield Park. Officials from the town and American Water representatives unveiled plans for the water-centric play space that will open to the public in April 2020.

Chesapeake Sensory Plaza will be a 5,000-square-foot, water-themed play area designed to encourage creativity, exploration and learning in a unique and interactive setting. The project is made possible through a $150,000 Building Better Communities grant offered by the American Water Charitable Foundation and administered by the National Recreation and Park Association. The grant program enables communities to build water and nature-inspired play spaces that highlight the importance of natural resources and the environment. Additional funding was provided by the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation and the Bel Air Recreation Committee. 

The American Water Charitable Foundation is committed to participating and investing in programs that benefit communities served by American Water. "Maryland American Water has operated Bel Air’s water system for nearly 90 years and our Foundation is pleased to partner with the Town of Bel Air to provide residents and visitors the opportunity to learn, enjoy and appreciate water in a fun and engaging way," said Carrie Williams, American Water Charitable Foundation President.

Patterned after the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Chesapeake Sensory Plaza will engage visitors in the natural environment by providing a highly interactive experience featuring the beauty and power of water. The space will represent the five states that comprise the watershed, and manual hand pumps and water switches will start the flow of water into a 60-foot-long channel traversing the length of the plaza. The channel will feature a variety of mill wheels, lock gates, flaps, forks and collecting areas for visitors to manipulate and explore. Educational signage and illustrations will showcase the watershed’s delicate ecosystem as well as highlight the importance of water conservation and environmental stewardship practices. 

“As the first of its kind in the state of Maryland, we are excited to bring this unique educational play space to Bel Air,” said Town of Bel Air Director of Planning, Kevin Small. “As a Sustainable Maryland Certified community, we value the opportunity to teach local families the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed area.”  

“Places like the Chesapeake Sensory Plaza ensure children and families can experience water, have access to water-based education and nature play spaces, which are key to building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Karl Schrass, NRPA director of conservation. “We are proud to support the Town of Bel Air and the Chesapeake Sensory Plaza through our partnership with the American Water Charitable Foundation and encourage communities everywhere to explore the wonders of nature through their local parks and recreation.”

For more information about the Building Better Communities program, visit https://amwater.com/corp/customers-and-communities/american-water-charitable-foundation/signature-program.

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The American Water Charitable Foundation was established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support American Water employee-identified nonprofit endeavors.

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 14 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.com.

Maryland American Water, a subsidiary of American Water provides high-quality and reliable water services to approximately 24,000 people.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org.  For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.