Taggers may not be big readers of 17th Century poetry. One work’s often borrowed expression might fit their amusement, even if they have not heard it.
I thought of that when I tromped up the hill through the vandalized chain link fence off Rooney Rock Path in HP’s Stony Brook Reservation. The ratty remnants of the Thompson Center have not served the recreation of the physically disabled for nine years. Instead, it clearly has a different set of visitors.
Andrew Marvell’s 17th century poem To His Coy Mistress, begins:
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
On this desolate rise at the Southern end of the reservation, the taggers had time enough. The walls in the back show no signs of rushed spraying. They are also low enough to allow easy access.
Hyde Park does not have a huge graffiti problem. I have not noticed these tags elsewhere. These likely are HP’s extreme. Of course, few will ever bother to see them.
The accompanying playground, picnic area and wheelchair accessible pavement are theoretically not open to the public. It took quite a bit of clicking to find that the center has not been open since 2002. The fullest information is online in the DCR’s Resource Management Plan for Stony Brook Reservation.
The reservation is still an impressive park, particularly the huge Northern area, the giant lollipop on the Southern stick. We hike, picnic and bike there often. Yet little of it requires serious maintenance. There are few and small playgrounds and picnic areas. The trails are mud and stone or asphalt. The public pool, skating rink and baseball diamonds are all in the lower stick next to the maintenance facility and crew.
Even before the great recession, the $3 million to upgrade the Thompson Center alone was listed, unfunded and unlikely to find legislative champions anytime soon. From the reservation plan, I found that the cinder block main building went up in 1977. From Wikipedia, I discovered that its namesake was yet another in the line of disgraced, resigned MA House Speakers, John Forbes Thompson, a.k.a. the Iron Duke.
The plan summarizes its problems as:
Heavily vandalized both inside and out, the Thompson Center is not sealed to the elements. Removal of the chimney, repair of the roof sheathing, replacing the roof, and replacing wall caps are needed to seal this structure. This building is not in use. There are numerous ancillary structures, including wooden walls and an inoperative spray pool associated with this building. All are in poor condition.
The isolation of the Thompson Center from other Reservation facilities and from the view of neighbors and passers-by has also made it an attractive nuisance. Many of the Thompson Center’s needed repairs were caused by extensive vandalism to the building. This site may no longer be appropriate for a building and recreational facilities.