It’s a serene setting: a community park in the verdant, affluent borough of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, population 1,700.The park is almost as obscure as the borough itself, which consists primarily of a main street that runs parallel to the lightly traveled Route 31, with a creek and a thick wall of trees separating the two roads. If someone took you here blindfolded, then removed the blinders, you’d never guess that New York City is less than 60 miles away. Glen Gardner is the sort of crossroads community that might get named after the innkeeper who first staked out the land. And, according to the borough’s website, that really was the case: it was called Eveland’s Tavern until the mid 19th century, after John Eveland, whose family long operated an eatery in the venerable structure that today houses the Glen Gardner Inn.
But, lest you completely lose your inhibitions at this oasis that sits squarely at Glen Gardner’s most prominent intersection (it only has a few others), the authorities will remind you that you need to rein it in.
None of these regulations are, in and of themselves, particularly radical in this day and age. So why does this sign look so draconian? My guess is it’s the fact that each regulation appears on a separate notification, using different color schemes and font for the most part. The legislators of Glen Gardner probably have good reason for this: most likely, they didn’t devise the laws all at once, so each one received its own sign upon adoption. And different visuals help each one stand out distinctly. But the aesthetics make it seem like we can only anticipate a few more to get tacked on as the years progress. And they probably will. But wouldn’t it look a lot less like a killjoy if they consolidated the rules onto one placard?
As it’s currently arranged, the rules supersede the recreation. It’s almost extreme enough to look like the sort of public service announcement you might see in notoriously regulation-happy Singapore.
I take that back. Nothing is extreme as Singapore. Keep trying, Mr. Gardner.