Is This Land Our Land?

This is an interesting article from the Advocate on the reuse of State Hospital property for Disc Golf among other things. When I began to see their installations dotting some of the furthest reaches of the property I had no idea that these anomalous poles with chains were for any kind of sport… much less had ever heard of disc golf.

The article explains disc golf as well as its relation to the grounds and the dog paths. In some places on Hospital Hill you can find old partially wooden disc golf baskets that have not stood the test of time. It is somewhat surprising that the article did not talk more about the Community Gardens which were also given to Smith Voc.

From The Valley Advocate
Thursday, September 04, 2008

Is This Our Land, image and text by Sarah Gibbons, for The Valley Advocate

There’s a 282-acre parcel of land off Burt’s Pit Road in Northampton that’s used for a variety of recreational activities, as well as some agricultural ones. Hundreds of apartment dwellers from Northampton and surrounding towns use the community gardens adjacent to the land in the spring, summer and fall. Cross-country runners take advantage of the paths carved into the land’s woods, and countless dog walkers use these same paths to stroll behind their bounding rovers.

But few people seem to know that it was the installation of a disc golf course on the land, which was once the property of the old State Hospital, that opened the acreage up and made it a popular recreational destination. What was a labor of love for Felix Harvey and Jason Johnson, the co-designers of the course, has led to the maintenance of the land (parts of which had essentially gone to weed) and the creation of a space that looks more like a park and less like an overgrown forest. The creation of the disc golf course has allowed other users to access parts of the land that might have been inaccessible before.

Dotted throughout woods and fields on the north side of Burt’s Pit Road are 18 curious-looking baskets. Each basket is elevated around a metal pole that stands about five feet tall. Chains extend from the center of the basket to a wide ring at the top of the pole to form a triangular shape, resembling a torso. When one writer for the Advocate first saw the baskets years ago, he thought they might be feeders, maybe for deer or the many other critters who call the land home. And like most of the parcel’s wildlife, the baskets are almost invisible unless you look closely, because many are set strategically behind hummocks, near streams and on the edges of gullies off the beaten running and walking paths. They can barely be seen from a short distance and are not obtrusive to their surroundings; coming across one is like seeing a tiny sentry in repose at his post.

Story Continues…

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