Father says war over Kennedy Park Belvedere 'shattering'

Saturday June 2, 2012

LENOX -- On the first anniversary of the ceremony dedicating the Kennedy Park Belvedere, architect Michael Fieldman gazed at the verdant landscape, the distant hills framed by fair-weather clouds sailing slowly across the horizon.

Fieldman designed and funded the installation in honor of his son, Dr. Jordan Fieldman of Berkshire Medical Center, who died of cancer in 2004.

Michael Fieldman had been spotted by chance at the site and was initially reluctant to talk with an Eagle reporter and photographer. Upon further reflection, he agreed to a brief conversation, his first public statement since last summer.

"Jordan loved the Berkshires," his father recalled. "This is where his heart was."

Coincidentally, a short time earlier, a couple from Windsor -- seven-year Berk shire residents -- had stopped to admire the view and praise the installation as a "beautiful, tasteful" addition to what had been a debris-strewn, badly rundown overlook.

Dr. Fieldman, who treated patients until shortly before his death at the age of 39, frequented the park and the overlook area.

"Jordan was so gentle, so respectful of people. Very gentle, very quiet, painfully modest," his father added.

"To have this kind of thing swirl around a human being like that is shattering in a way," he said. "It's wrong, it's really wrong."

Michael Fieldman, a native of Saskatchewan, Canada, has designed hospital facilities at Massachusetts General in Boston, among other projects. He lives in New York City and Greenfield, N.Y.

"This is not a memorial to Jordan. It's the Kennedy Park Belvedere," Fieldman said. "He had a good reputation in this community and nationwide, so there's a plaque there. And why not? He devoted his life to this community. He was up here just before he died. It's a gorgeous area."

Noting a Star of David, the symbol of Judaism, spray-painted on the installation, Fieldman called it "an insulting thing. It's annoying, almost like name-calling in a way. It's absolutely wrong.

"Language can be dangerous," he asserted. "They use the word ‘memorial' as a weapon, it's a weapon right now. I'm very careful with words because if people don't understand the intent of what you're saying, it gets twisted and you get beaten up for it."

He continued, "This is a magnificent view, with a history of the Aspinwall," referring to the grand hotel adjoining the overlook that burned down in 1931, three decades after it was built.

"It was sumptuous, elaborate, with flowers, gardens, a certain formality," said Field man. "It's interesting to see it reconstituted, not formal, like a promenade."

An old photo of the Aspin wall and its scenic lookout is attached to a picnic table at the overlook, which Fieldman described as a belvedere, "open to guests as a viewing platform at the edge of formal gardens."

Referring to his project, Fieldman said "it widens the ability of people to recapture the history, to sit and peacefully think, that's how I designed it.

"There was a belvedere here before, there's a belvedere here now. It's catching the rhythm, broadening the view. It's a nice gathering place for an event, or if people want to get married here."

A scheduled four-hour "Oc cupy the Belvedere" event planned by the citizens group suing the town over the project had not materialized by early afternoon on Friday.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto


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