$50K allocated for Poet’s Seat Tower sandblasting as officials mull vandalism prevention

Graffiti visible from Beacon Field on the wall of the parking lot at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Graffiti visible from Beacon Field on the wall of the parking lot at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Graffiti on the top level at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Graffiti on the top level at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Graffiti on the exterior of Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Graffiti on the exterior of Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Graffiti on the second level at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Graffiti on the second level at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Graffiti on the second level at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Graffiti on the second level at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Painted over graffiti on the floor of Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Painted over graffiti on the floor of Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Every lintel that was installed in each opening a few years ago is covered in graffiti at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

Every lintel that was installed in each opening a few years ago is covered in graffiti at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A visiting couple said they enjoyed the view but not the graffiti at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield.

A visiting couple said they enjoyed the view but not the graffiti at Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-19-2024 3:45 PM

Modified: 04-21-2024 7:10 PM


GREENFIELD — Following an affirmative vote by City Council this week, $50,000 will go toward sandblasting graffiti off of Poet’s Seat Tower, where vandalism has proven to be a persistent problem.

Department of Public Works Director Marlo Warner II said he believes the tower was last sandblasted in 2016, but that the DPW and Recreation Department frequently paint over graffiti at the site. Unlike the tower’s flat floors, which can be painted over and cleaned, Warner said the tower’s walls are porous and require sandblasting, the process of spraying hard particles at a surface at high speeds.

“It’s pretty substantial. Inside the tower, DPW staff has painted over floors, tried to get the vulgarities covered up and painted over, and the recreation director has her staff cleaning it at times also. It’s been an ongoing issue and it’s almost like a constant maintenance,” Warner said.

Poet’s Seat Tower has sat on the top of Rocky Mountain since the early 20th century, when it was built to honor the American poet Frederick Goddard Tuckerman. The current tower replaces the original wooden structure, which was constructed in 1873 and burned down in 1903, according to the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.

Alongside the DPW and Recreation Department, Greenfield resident Sandra Boston has, on multiple occasions, voluntarily painted over the graffiti.

“I really see the artistic talent involved,” Boston said upon painting over the graffiti last year. “It just needs the appropriate place. There are lots of murals around Greenfield, so I’m sure we could find someplace.”

Precinct 7 Councilor William “Wid” Perry, who voted against the spending on Wednesday, suggested the city use the $50,000 to purchase and install security cameras at the tower to prevent future instances of vandalism. He said that $50,000 “is a lot of money for something that can be prevented so easily.”

“Next time we could use the $50,000 to buy the cameras or other things that would stop it from happening,” he said.

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At-Large Councilor Wahab Minhas suggested the council vote to set up plywood canvasses at the site to give those who want to spray paint an outlet to “be edgy” without vandalizing the iconic landmark. Precinct 3 Councilor Michael Mastrototaro, on the other hand, suggested the city impose hefty fines of $1,000 or more on those who are caught vandalizing the landmark. He added that since Poet’s Seat Tower is a historic structure, the city might be able to use Community Preservation Act funding to pay for future vandalism prevention measures.

“It has cost the city a lot of money over time, and there’s got to be a way to deter that. I think if you whack somebody once or twice in the pocketbook, it may stop,” Mastrototaro said. “That’s got to be discussed down the road, but we sandblast it without having a plan to deter anyone ... and the graffiti is getting worse.”

The council voted 8-2 in favor of the sandblasting, with Perry and At-Large Councilor Penny Ricketts voting “no” on the measure. Precinct 1 Councilor Katherine Golub said she “very reluctantly” voted in favor of the budget transfer, noting she agreed with other councilors that it would be more cost-effective for the city to invest in long-term vandalism enforcement and deterrence efforts.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.