Richard – ‘Pokémon Go’ Issues at Fort Phoenix Overblown?
As promised I visited Fairhaven's Fort Phoenix to investigate what impact, if any, the game Pokémon Go was having on the historic site. Contrary to reports of significant damage and litter issues, I found no such problems.
It has been reported that players of the app driven game Pokémon Go and their followers were taking a toll on Fairhaven's historic Fort Phoenix. Gary Lavalette, a member of the Fairhaven Historical Commission reported damage to cannons and offered an image of a "mind field" as scavengers allegedly dug holes in search of secret treasure buried during the fort's glory days. He spoke of widespread litter issues and reed fields rampaged by players in search of somewhere to relieve themselves in the hours after the fort's restrooms had closed for the day. Lavalette also told us of damage to cannon wheels that would cost some 4 thousand dollars to replace.
I spent 90 minutes strolling the fort in search of damage and could find no evidence of it. I did see dozens of people of all ages that were playing Pokémon Go. Some wandered aimlessly through the fort area while others sat around. Most stared at their cellphone screens and few uttered a syllable. It was, to me at least, an eerie site.
I also saw many people enjoying the beach on a warm sunny afternoon. Others sat under shade trees and read books or just gazed out over the water. An elderly couple sat in the backseat of a car holding hands. I investigated them no further. Several people played basketball while others wore out their walking shoes. I saw no litter issues beyond what you might expect to see on a normal day. There was no evidence that holes had been dug anywhere or that damage had been done to the fort in any obvious way. I saw no flattened reed fields and no evidence that the fort was being disrespected by anyone. The game continues to draw large crowds at night. A video from last night showed hundreds of players at the fort after dark, an issue that might not be that difficult to resolve since both side appear willing to cooperate.
The truth is that while Pokémon Go may seem mighty odd to some of us, to others it is just a game and at least on the surface is presenting no real problems. Players are promising to police themselves and the Historical Commission says it is willing to hold them to their word. A peaceful resolution appears at hand. Let's hope it maintains.