Given the significance and the central location of the Hilltop’s 15-acre grassland restoration, and the many questions posed by Reservation visitors, there was a clear need for something to explain the project to passersby. Then-Conservancy President Anne Stires had the brilliant idea to apply for a grant to create interpretive signage, which would be used to educate the public about the site’s history and its ecology and thus enhance the overall visitor experience.
The NJ DEP awarded the grant to the Hilltop Conservancy in 2010. Anne worked through 2011 to create the content with a number of subject matter experts (see contributor list below), and the end result was a wonderful set of five outdoor panels — one historical and four seasonal — to be displayed on two side-by-side cantilevered bases. In 2012 Essex County installed the signs at the southern end of the restoration site’s wood chip path (see installation photos below), and today it is one of the most frequently visited spots in the Reservation.
Many thanks to the people who contributed their time and expertise to this important project, including:
- Richard Kennedy, webmaster and author, EssexMountainSanatorium.net
- Robert Williams, historian and author, Verona Historical Society
- George Hill, MD, historian, Essex County Medical Society
- Dave Hall, Ph.D, naturalist, NJ Audubon Society
- David Alexander, naturalist, Essex County Environmental Center
- Anthony Puglisi, Director, Essex County Office of Public Information
- Tara Casella, Director, Essex County Environmental Center
- Theresa Trapp, Hilltop Conservancy Treasurer
- Anne Stires, Hilltop Conservancy member and signage project leader