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Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett helps celebrate the groundbreaking of the Braille Trail. Photo courtesy of Anna Miller of Perkins.

The town of Watertown, in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will be opening a Braille Trail and a Sensory Garden, one of the few parks of its kind. Breaking ground on July 21st, this project hopes to be completed by late fall 2014.

Watertown, along with DCR, has been committed to restoring the Charles River Reservation’s multi-use paths and parkland between Watertown Square and Watertown Yacht Club along Charles River Road. Collaborating with the Perkins School, DCR designed a Braille Trail and Sensory Garden in addition to other improvements to the site’s riverbank, pathways and landscape.

A quarter mile loop trail within the park, the Braille Trail surrounds the Sensory Garden near the Charles River. The Sensory Garden will include a number of structures such as benches, stone walls and a Mishoon canoe-like boat, as well as other elements to feel or climb on and explore by sense of touch. A guide wire will assist sight-impaired visitors with navigation and interpretive markers in both visual text and Braille will line the trail.

A signalized pedestrian crossing at the Charles River Road/Irving Street intersection will give the public and Perkins School students safe access to the park and to the river.

With this trail, DCR and Watertown are engaging in a rare opportunity to reconnect a community to its riverfront. It is DCR’s mission “to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreation resources” and provide low cost, family friendly recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. So, when DCR is involved in building something new at a park or redoing a visitor’s center, they make it accessible to disabled people. If DCR can make park lands accessible for everyone, they have reached their goal.

In less than a year, you will be able to enjoy the Charles River while engaging your senses on the Braille Trail and in the Sensory Garden!

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Spending my summer as an intern in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, I enjoy writing for the Great Outdoors blog as well as tweeting for the office's twitter accounts. While I am not in the office I can be found working out, playing lacrosse and enjoying time with family and friends. During the year, I am a student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where I play lacrosse and I am hoping to major in Economics and Environmental Studies.

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