Some On The East Aurora Village Board Are Forgetting What A Community Park Is For
By EAST AURORA EDITOR (5/7/2010 7:10:12 AM)
Prior to Hamlin Park, the land belonged to a farmer named Mr. Holmes so folks called the grove of beautiful trees in that area Holmes Grove. Mr. Groves "there is no record of his first name but there is a George Holmes who was the tax collector early in the 20th century" was a hard working man who did not have the means to clear all of his land and left a grove of trees near the current pavilion all along Prospect. In September of 1899 the land became available and Cicero J Hamlin purchased the grove along with adjacent property and donated it to the village to show his appreciation "of my residence there and of the generous treatment I have received as a holder of property in your village since I became a resident of Buffalo."
Hamlin indicated to the board that he was purchasing the land for the village as appreciation to East Aurora's generous treatment to he and his family. He was also concerned that the land would be developed into homes which would eliminate the possibility of having a place for children to gather and play in the center of the village. He wrote to his son Harry that "I recall the joy of young Chan [Chauncey Jerome, son of Harry] playing day and night in the Grove whilst we we administered back to front on the farm...." and "...It is my hope that this land will serve the next generations the same way it did you and your son by protecting it from the developers and socials whom might see it become something other than a safe and inspirational place for youth to run and play."
To ensure that the park would not be discouraged, developed, or turned into a sanctuary or a place for meditation Hamlin stipulated the donation of the land to have a specific condition that the "park always be open to the public for recreational purposes". He also stipulated that at least $100 be paid to the maintenance of the park each year. Looking back it looks like that condition may or may not have been met over the years. However it is clear that the purpose of the park as Hamlin intended was to encourage, protect and promote the land as a place for recreation. Recreation includes things that make noise, and not just ambient noise.
The recent comments from new trustees Randy West and Hamlin Park neighbor Patrick Shea, both of whom I have great respect for, makes me believe that the purpose and original reason the land was secured has been lost over the years and somehow the park is being targeted as a place for open space and serenity and limited in the area of athletics and other forms of recreation that create noise or is manifest of an organization.
Back in 1915 the Roycroft Concert Band requested approval from the Village of East Aurora to perform every other week on Wednesday and Saturday evenings for a party and dancing. Initially the board frowned upon the noise that would "emanate throughout the neighborhood and impart a nuisance to the tranquility and serenity that one expects on the privacy of their property". The Roycrofters turned to a direct Heir of the Hamlin family Chauncy J. Hamlin who was living in Buffalo to help with their case to win approval to have the band in Hamlin Park. Although it was well known that Hamlin had spent a significant amount of time on the land now occupied by Hamlin Park as a child it was also well known that he was interested in geology and paleontology and was interested in the preservation of open areas in Buffalo. He was actually elected President of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences during the same year as the request from the Roycroft band.
To the delight of the Roycrofters Hamlin wrote a letter of support to the group saying "My grandfather well understood the history of desire from people in your great village the need for peace and tranquility. He was one who possessed the same desire. He also understood that children need a place to run and play and this required land in a central location. Several times I was carried over the shoulder of an angry neighbor for banging on drums or shouting at their livestock. Father would scold me in front of them but after they left told me to go back and play as I like. To this day I have a notion that I was instrumental in the donation of land." He went on to say referring to the Roycroft Band request, "I have received similar communication from my dear friend Mr. Hubbard that reflects the board's desire to curtail the delightful sounds of music that brings joy to not only the performers but to all participants young and old. With the recent and untimely passing of his father he will be resigning from the board and conveyed to me his intent to resign prior to the vote on this topic in order to ensure the true intentions of the board. I will be a ready and willing participant in the reclamation of land to reinforce my late grandfather's desire if the board so chooses to muffle, inhibit, subdue, conquer or repress the sounds that manifest or contribute to the enjoyment of children young and old".
It seems like this is a very good opportunity to learn the lessons from our history and never again do anything to constrain, legislate, hinder, or govern something that encourages activity in the park.
Editor's note: thank you to the former East Aurora resident who graciously donated dozens of letters and articles which helped contribute to this article.
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Marilynn Fox Snyder ...(5/10/2010 4:19:40 PM)
My family lived on Sycamore St. The loudest noise we heard were the fireworks. We loved it. Band music,as well. If you recently moved near the park and don't like noise, perhaps you should consider moving again. Parks are meant for fun and the noise of children playing. E A is fortunate to have such a place for townspeople to gather and play.
Enjoy it.Don't make it a political issue.
Jim C ...(5/9/2010 12:21:46 PM)
It's bad enough that the lawyers in our state have limited the recreation due to suite happy opportunists causing sky high insurance rates.
Now the natural instinct of our kids to run around chasing each other with screams of joy are trying to be subdued by people within ear shot of the park. I say you knew what a park was when you bought the property and you most likely used it when your kids were of age. Now that you have outgrown the park, sell your house to someone who would once again appreciate the prime location and stop being so selfish by trying to ruin a wonderful asset of the village.
David Gunner ...(5/8/2010 12:21:30 PM)
Great article Joe. Thanks for continuing to write stories that keep everyone informed about differnt issues in our town.
Coats ...(5/8/2010 10:28:43 AM)
I usually don't like history...but now that I am old, slow and fat and according to my kids "history" myself...I have a new respect for the obvious brilliance of historical fact. Thanks for sharing this. Have we now beat this horse bloody enough? Nah, maybe a couple more until the 24th....eh?
Angus ...(5/8/2010 10:03:27 AM)
I live adjacent to Emery Park where I am subjected to 2nd hand "smoke" and the associated contact buzz every time we are down wind from the closest shelter. You don't hear me complaining.
Editor's note... Angus is now right up there with Dave the Angry Villager for our favorite submitter of comments
Bob Young ...(5/7/2010 10:14:15 PM)
When we were first looking for a home in East Aurora, I recall
feeling that the new home should be within 2 blocks of Hamlin Park...and that wonderful home on Walnut fit the bill. From ToyFest to the playground to the baseball diamond to the Aurora Players and yes, even to the Little Loop football games. Hamlin Park is East Aurora and I hope we can see beyond this apparent
bickering and find a compromise that keeps the park happy and noisy and busy and even crowded at times. Once you choose to live near Hamlin Park, all the activities are part of the deal...fireworks, church music, chicken dinners, baseball games, Toyfest (hopefully again) and Little Loop football games!!
Mark M ...(5/7/2010 9:12:38 PM)
They play 4 to 6 Saturdays a year. Get over and let them play.
Ward Howick ...(5/7/2010 4:13:06 PM)
I loved Hamlin Park when I grew up in the early 60's. There were bands and games and barbecues all the time. Some joyful noise is always a good thing!
cccme ...(5/7/2010 4:12:41 PM)
I'm pretty sure no one who lives by the park lived by the original farm. Therefore, it seems likely they bought with full knowledge that the park is COMMUNITY owned and neither their backyard nor private property. Did or do their own kids partake of sports in the park? If so this is hypocritical. Of course if you make sure they only participated in programs held in someone else’s backyard and told them to be sure to be quiet when they went out to play, that's fine. For Pete's sake, kids play in the park, community programs are held in the park and that's that.