Chesapeake Sensory Plaza, Harford County’s First Nature-based Playground, Opens in Rockfield Park


Park made possible through $150,000 donation from American Water Charitable Foundation

The Town of Bel Air, Maryland American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) are pleased to announce the opening of Chesapeake Sensory Plaza in Rockfield Park.

The project was made possible through a $150,000 Building Better Communities grant donated by the AWCF and administered by the NRPA. 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 for the project was provided by the Dresher Foundation, the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation, the Bel Air Rotary, the Cultural Arts Commission and the Bel Air Recreation Committee. 

“The American Water Charitable Foundation and Maryland American Water are so proud to be partners in creating the Chesapeake Sensory Plaza. This interactive water play space will bring families from throughout the region to learn about water and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Winters Run, the water source for the Bel Air community, is part of this great watershed and this project is testament to Maryland American Water’s dedication to the communities we serve,” said Barry Suits, president, Maryland American Water.”

Chesapeake Sensory Plaza is a 5,000-square-foot, water-themed play area designed to connect families to one of our greatest natural resources through interactive play and thoughtful design.  Patterned after the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the plaza is built around a hands-on water feature that includes a 60-foot-long channel system that follows the natural topography of the site.

Design elements, including educational and interactive panels, provide information and fun facts about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and conservation practices.  The pathways to the site are illustrated as if you are viewing the watershed area from 30,000 feet above it and include forests and farmlands, as well as urban and suburban areas. Finally, natural elements and landscaping frame the project for additional context.

“Chesapeake Sensory Plaza helps people understand the health of the Chesapeake Bay is everyone’s responsibility”, says Kevin Small, project manager and director of planning for the Town of Bel Air. “It’s a natural place to teach children and their families about the Chesapeake Bay watershed and encourage conservation behaviors for today and future generations.”

“Chesapeake Sensory Plaza is an exciting new addition to Rockfield Park,” says Amy Chmielewski, Mayor for the Town of Bel Air. “Working together with American Water Charitable Foundation and Maryland American Water were vital to the project’s success and we are grateful for their support.”

“Ensuring children and families can experience water and have access to water-based education and nature play spaces is key to building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Karl Schrass, NRPA director of conservation. “We are proud to support 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.”

Click here for more information about the Building Better Communities program.  

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 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 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

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  For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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