Posts Tagged ‘2021’

Feeding the Birds

The Abandoned Batterson Park

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Last September, we finally moved out of the city. It was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. Not just because of Covid, or the ever increasing crime rate. I just really missed the woods. I missed looking out my front door and seeing trees. I missed waking up to the sounds of birds singing. I missed looking up at the stars on dark nights. You get none of that in the city. One thing we started doing again was feeding the birds. In the city, you basically get the same batch of shrewd little birds day in and day out. But we thought, now that we’re out in the country, we might finally get some interesting avian visitors. But we were wrong. For the first few weeks, that is. We bought our bird seed. We set up our feeder. And we waited. But nobody came. The feeder stayed quiet for days on end. No birds would even come near it. Until one day a large redheaded woodpecker, whom I have come to call The Harbinger, showed up. He came from the woods in our backyard, as if driven by some otherworldly force. He ate from the feeder until he nearly burst. When he was finished, he perched himself up on the railing of our deck, and began to sing. His calls pierced through the trees and echoed through the forest. And before long, birds of all shapes and sizes began flocking to the feeder. All at once. They had heard the call, and they had come to feed.

Allow me to introduce the subject of our June article: the abandoned Batterson Park. This is another one that I have had my eye on for a long time and one that no other major explorers have covered. I have always been a sucker for abandoned parks. There’s just something really special about them and the stories of how they got this way. It’s just fascinating how a place like this eventually fades away from thought and time. Even after being enjoyed by so many for so long. First established in the early twentieth century, Batterson Park was created from land once designated as a reservoir. It is unique in that it covers three different towns. Though the park is officially under the Hartford system, it actually exists outside of the city limits. The landmass of the park stretches across parts of Farmington and New Britain. It is all centered around the large and aptly named Batterson Park Pond. But this uniqueness would eventually lead to the park’s downfall. For many years, the towns that Batterson Park belonged to were never able to reach a deal on who would be paying to maintain the park and its amenities. In the fall of 2015, the park was forced to close its doors for good due to budget cuts. It has remained shuttered and forgotten ever since. Many deals and sales have been proposed over the years, but nothing has yet to come to fruition.

As I mentioned to you earlier, this place had been on my radar for awhile. We just never quite had the time to check it out. But, since it’s just about summertime, we were in the market for some new shoes. And let me tell you, there is no better place for explorer shoes than REI in West Hartford. No, we aren’t getting paid to say that. They’re just that good. Check them out if your outdoorsy. Since it was a nice day, after shoe shopping, we decided to take a stop at the nearby abandoned Batterson Park. It is a quiet section of town. And arriving at the deserted park is a little perplexing. The gate is down. But there are several heavily trafficked paths around it. There are signs up saying that the park has been closed. But then there are other signs welcoming you to the park and listing its hours. Mixed messages. No matter. Sitting right alongside the beautiful Batterson Pond, the park is easily accessible. We weren’t too sure about being there at first, but after running into a few other young adults with their dogs, our worries were laid to rest. The abandoned park may be on the small side, but there is also quite a lot to see. Walking through the old gates, you are immediately greeted by a rotting sign. It lists the admission prices to the park from days long since past. My how times have changed. And as we continued down the road, things just got more interesting.

Things are quiet. Very quiet. There has clearly been some fire damage here, as one building near the entrance has been completely burned out. Most of the other buildings have been boarded up, but a few can still be accessed. Inside you will find nothing but old equipment and lots of chairs. The beach’s dock is still floating in the waters of the pond. Several old lifeguard chairs rot off to the side. A maintenance shed sits wide open, and it is full of old disused equipment. A basketball court and pavilion are slowly being overgrown. Forgotten grills and fire pits still stand amongst the brush. The main boathouse curiously still has a few boats under its roof, but they appear to be in good condition. Let’s keep it that way. Perhaps they are just being stored there. But the main star attraction, and the whole reason I am writing this article, is the sea of picnic tables. A little way’s down the main path, there are dozens of derelict picnic tables standing in formation. Their green paint is slowly peeling. Bushes and vegetation is engulfing them. And combined with the dead silence of the old park, they provide a very eerie spectacle to behold. They truly encapsulated the sad story of the abandoned park. A place that was once designed for recreation and fun, now lies empty and cold. The memories stacked up and locked away like these ghostly old picnic tables.

The abandoned Batterson Park was certainly a unique visit. Though there was not too much to see here, the silent army of forgotten picnic tables really provided a haunting window into this place’s long lost past. Plus the park appears to be relatively untouched by the outside world. For now, that is. Who knows what the future holds. It reminded me very much of our bird feeder when we first moved in. You see, we urban explorers are like the wild birds. When one of us finds something good, they usually let out a song of their own to beckon others to come get a taste. And though I do not consider myself The Harbinger, I know that by posting this article, many other explorers will soon be coming to take a look at Batterson Park. And one of the most interesting things I have noticed from feeding the birds is that there are two types of visitors. First, there is the Chickadee. They are beautiful yet simple birds. They come to the feeder, eat their share of food, and then sing a small song before flying off. But then, there is the Grackle. They are obnoxious and disruptive. They scare away the other birds, eat more than their share, and usually knock over our whole feeder. Ruining things for everyone. Most of you reading this, I know, will be quiet and respectful. Like the Chickadees. Some, however, will be loud and destructive. Like the Grackles. Which will you be?