For Immediate Release - July 21, 2014

Patrick Administration Officials Break Ground on Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail

WATERTOWN– Monday, July 21, 2014 – Today, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett joined Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Jack Murray, State Senator William N. Brownsberger, State Representative Jonathan Hecht, local officials and members of the Watertown community to break ground on a new Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail.

“This is a wonderful example of community advocates working with state and local officials to achieve common goals,” said Secretary Bartlett. “When completed, this trail will provide an opportunity for more people to enjoy the wealth of open space that Massachusetts is so fortunate to have.”

“Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, DCR has enhanced the recreational experience for people of all ages and abilities across the Commonwealth,” said DCR Commissioner Murray. “I am thankful for the dedication and commitment of our partners, who helped this project come to fruition.”

The Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail is the first phase of a multi-phase effort to restore the Charles River Reservation multi-use paths and parkland between Watertown Square and Watertown Yacht Club along Charles River Road. The $1.38 million public/private partnership project began as an extensive public process while developing the Master Plan for the Charles River Reservation System.

“I’m very pleased to express my gratitude to DCR and the Solomon Foundation for their sustained leadership in preserving and protecting access to the Charles River for generations to come,” said Senator Will Brownsberger.

“This is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of collaboration at the federal, state, local, public and private level,” said Representative Jon Hecht. ?“An example of the expertise of a lot of people locally in Watertown who understand what kind of project this can be. We received so much input from so many people, especially from people right here on the ground in Watertown, that is what it is going to take to make this kind of project fitting for the community as well as the broader vision we have for the river.”

The project area is a mile long crescent shaped swath of parkland along riverbanks, woodland, and pathway between Watertown Square and Watertown Yacht Club. The mostly wooded parkland encompasses sixteen acres of potential growth for the area. DCR has partnered with the Perkins School for the Blind in order to develop the Braille Trail and Sensory Garden, in addition to other improvements to the site’s riverbank, pathways and landscape.?

“Perkins is thrilled to be a part of this very special initiative. The Braille Trail will allow our students and others in the community who are blind to fully enjoy this wonderful community resource with their sighted friends,” said Dave Power, Perkins CEO and president.

When completed, the Braille Trail will be fully accessible with interpretive markers at regular intervals and a play area developed to enhance the sense of touch. The trail is a ? mile loop within the park, surrounding a Sensory Garden featuring a number of structures such as benches, stone walls, and a Mishoon canoe-like boat. There will be a guide wire along the trail to assist sight-impaired visitors to navigate and interpretive markers along the trail in order to have visual text and graphic descriptions in Braille. DCR is also installing a signalized pedestrian crossing at the Charles River Road/Irving Street intersection to provide safe access for both the public and the Perkins School students to the park and river.?

A project working group was established to assist DCR in the planning process, interface with the broader community and identify strategies for additional funding. The Solomon Fund, the Perkins School, the Watertown Community Foundation, Watertown officials, and elected officials have attended public meetings, collaborated ideas and built support within the community for the past two years.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Jack Murray, the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.