Popularity of memorial benches threatens to ‘overrun’ parks

Sep 28, 2021

MATTAPOISETT — Requiem for an empty park.

The Mattapoisett Select Board discussed solutions to a novel but growing problem caused by the popularity of the memorial benches, chairs and bricks placed in public parks throughout the town.

While the memorials may seem like a win-win as both a public good and a heartfelt commemoration, they may soon become too much of a good thing.

“I don’t want to see Shipyard Park overrun by benches,” said Select Board Member Jodi Bauer.

The board members discussed solutions that would reduce the amount of space needed for each memorial, like putting multiple names on a single bench.

Another idea was to focus the enthusiasm for memorials on larger projects, like a shade shack, that could be funded by larger groups of people and feature longer lists of names than individual bricks or benches.

Representatives from the Friends of the Mattapoisett Rail Trail also spoke up to propose using benches and bike racks — which would already need to be installed along new stretches of the bike path — as memorials.

The Select Board was receptive to the idea and asked the Friends to submit a more specific plan including the number and location of the benches.

Ultimately, the Select Board did not take any action on the issue but agreed to revisit it at a future meeting once more information could be gathered.