Last Sunday I took a walk through Veterans Memorial Park on Forester Avenue in Warwick, NY. While the most obvious memorials identify the park, like the Veterans memorial, or the 9/11 memorial… Or label one of the athletic fields… The most significant memorial lies at the end of the driveway, at the rear of the park, a memorial to the town I grew up in, which like the people recognized by the other memorials in the park…is long gone.
To see this memorial, you need to walk or drive to the rear of the park, where you will be greeted by a sign which states “No Trespassing. Violators Will Be Prosecuted.” Most memorials have a plaque, a dedication. This sign is the dedication and perfectly describes the memorial.
I call the memorial “Welcome to Warwick. No Trespassing. Violators Will Be Prosecuted.”
On the left of this memorial is a graveyard. No bodies lie here, only the memories of those who enjoyed the privilege of being raised in old Warwick. This graveyard is a barren field of swing-less swing sets, and neglected rides buried beneath thousands of rotting leaves.
On the right of this memorial is the present… A crowded development of townhouses with 25mph signs and a stop sign at every turn. The lowered speed limits and additional stop-signs accomplish nothing, as they can be ignored. They’re merely symbolic, a classic example of how Warwick failed to efficiently predict and manage the growth it is experiencing.
10 feet behind the sign, in this forbidden zone prohibited access only by the presence of the No Trespassing sign is another memorial. Not a grand memorial like the one at the entrance to the park. Not even a modern memorial like the 9/11 memorial which lies between the driveway and the stream. This memorial is ugly and dirty. It is history and it has been neglected. Forgotten and supplanted by a No Trespassing sign, that memorial is just one small piece of what used to be Warwick. It’s nothing more than a water fountain with a plaque recognizing the sacrifice of Warwick firefighters lost in World War 1 and 2… yet it is worthy of prosecution to walk up and read the plaque.
20 feet behind the sign is the future, yet another brand new development of townhouses… parks… a new Warwick amongst new Warwick with aged designs and niche names for the roads and homes.
In one place we have the past, present, and future of Warwick all combined in a single memorial.
Give it another 20 years, when all the open space is gone, the town is too crowded, and the taxes are too high… When all those who made the decision to cash in and sell out have moved on… and the exodus begins, there will still be a Warwick, but it will only be a name.
Not a home.
Welcome to Warwick.
Violators Will Be Prosecuted.