Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 12, 2021

“Bubble” Fountain adds New Sights and Sounds to Sensory Friendly Trail 

Union County received Watts Foundation grant to add new water element.

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to announce that a new water element has been added to the Sensory Friendly Trail, through a grant awarded by the Blanche M. and George L. Watts Mountainside Community Foundation to the Trailside Museum Association.

The Sensory Friendly Trail is located on the grounds of the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Union County’s Watchung Reservation, at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Admission to Trailside and its ground is free, and free parking is located on site.

“This grant will enable the Sensory Friendly Trail to provide additional sensory experiences and new opportunities to explore the beautiful natural surroundings at the Trailside Nature and Science Center,” said Union County Commissioner Board Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “On behalf of the Board, I thank the Watts Foundation for their generous contribution, and the Trailside Museum Association for their dedication to nature education and conservation.”

The Watts Foundation grant provided for the installation of a rock water fountain powered by solar panels. The Union County Department of Parks and Recreation provided new plantings of evergreen trees, native shrubs and plants, and flowers to compliment the sights and sounds of the water fountain.

The trees have created a natural barrier from the nearby road and traffic. The new solar panels provide a teaching opportunity, and the additional, shrubs and flowers add color and provide shelter and food for wildlife.

“With these new additions to the Sensory Friendly Trail, we continue to build inclusion into Union County’s public recreation resources, and foster an environment that reflects our diverse population,” said Union County Commissioner Sergio Granados. “Using solar energy instead of fossil fuels also helps to reinforce Trailside’s mission of conservation and sustainability education.”

The new water element and solar panels were installed by company The Pond Builders, which also created a stream on the Trailside grounds.  

The Sensory Friendly Trail opened in 2018 as a way to provide equal access and inclusion to Union County residents. It is designed to meet the physical, social, and cognitive needs of different age groups, including kiosks highlighting the area’s natural and human history, guide ropes with braille signage for visually impaired visitors, musical components, and a sensory play area in the central gazebo with musical instruments to encourage exploration.

Visitors can walk the 0.3 mile Sensory Friendly Trail from dawn to dusk at no cost. The Trailside Nature and Science Center is also open free of charge. Visit ucnj.org/trailside for hours. Please be aware that masks are requested indoors.

For more information about the Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail and the Trailside Museum Association, visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation or call Patricia Bertsch, Director at 908-789-3670.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Union County COVID-19 Test Center at Kean University, the Mobile Test Unit, vaccination information, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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