To the editor:
Many of the more popular venues in the Berkshire have invited the public to make use of their outdoor spaces this summer. I found a list of 12 of these at Berkshires.org. These include The Clark, The Mount, Turnpark Art Space, and the hiking trails of BNRC, The Trustees, Mount Greylock, and the state forests. The only restrictions are to practice social distancing and wear a mask when you cannot. BNRC, for example, asks that you not hike at a property when the parking lot is full and to carry a mask in case you encounter other hikers on the trail.
Then there is Tanglewood. Until the pandemic the Tanglewood grounds were open for all to enjoy from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year, except during concerts. Now the grounds are open during limited hours on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
If you are willing to wade through the six pages of FAQs describing lawn visits you will discover the following. You must pre-register online for a timed entrance. This pre-registration process includes signing a waiver of liability. You must register in advance. You can’t just show up and register. You must wear a mask while on the grounds. “Landscape features, attractions, and amenities will be cordoned off or removed to avoid congregation in confined areas.” Restrooms will not be open despite guidance from the CDC that says “restrooms should be open if a park is open for public visitation.” Are the Tanglewood grounds like a park? Stays are limited to 90 minutes (probably best since restrooms are closed!). No picnics. No coolers or food on the grounds. No tailgating in the parking lots. “For health and safety reasons, only water in clear containers.” So, I can’t use my Kleen Kanteen, I must buy a plastic bottle? Can I replace the water with gin and tonic? Sadly, that isn’t addressed in the FAQs. Chairs and blankets are allowed!
I reviewed these restrictions with several friends. All concluded that “It feels like Tanglewood has put up a big ‘keep off the grass’ sign.” Exactly. I am not feeling warm and fuzzy about this. What happened to “we are all in this together”? Virtually all other venues in the Berkshires are inviting, encouraging the public to get outside and enjoy their properties. It seems that if the BSO/Tanglewood really cared they would find a way to engage with the community during this difficult time. Where’s the creativity? Where’s the commitment to being a good neighbor? Why can’t I just bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful grounds?