Dear Gilbert House Member and Patron,

Beginning in early July, we discovered that Gilbert House Children’s Museum had three Pokéstops located just outside of our front gates in the recently released Pokémon GO mobile game. Since that discovery, we have seen countless people gathered near Gilbert House playing the game. Some families have even come to our Museum to visit our exhibits, and maybe catch a Pokémon or two during their visit.

Since July, however, we’ve also seen an increase in problems. We’ve seen parking spots taken away from Gilbert House visitors during business hours and evening events. We’ve witnessed several players parked in our fire lane, blocking the flow of traffic, and blocking in visitors’ cars. We’ve seen an enormous increase in the amount of garbage, cigarette butts, broken glass, and other potentially hazardous items around Gilbert House. There has been extensive damage to the lawn. We’ve seen sidewalks and entrances blocked, and families turning away from visiting Gilbert House because of the crowds of people outside of the museum.

Some of the things that disturb us most is what we don’t see when our establishment is closed, and especially when Riverfront Park is closed (midnight-5:00am). We have had police called because of trespassing – people jumping the fence and coming inside the gates of Gilbert House. There have been threats and instances of physical violence. There has been vandalism to our property. Broken beer bottles, trash, and hundreds of cigarette butts welcome our staff in the morning. These behaviors are a huge liability for Gilbert House Children’s Museum, and happen when staff is not on premises.

We have been closely monitoring social media and have seen examples of people camping out on the lawn overnight. We have seen instances of dozens of empty containers used for inhalants left in our parking lot. We have seen requests for Pokémon GO players to meet in our parking lot to vape, smoke cigarettes and marijuana, drink alcohol, play loud music, and basically have a party in front of the children’s museum. We will not ignore these safety concerns. This is not the reputation we want for Gilbert House Children’s Museum.

Due to our location, we are not new to some of these issues. However, because of the popularity of Pokémon GO and the sheer volume of players, we are now experiencing troubling issues several times a week versus a handful of times a year.

We tried to think of ways to reach out to the players, but most ideas would require a large amount of funds and staff time. We tried to post signs and talk to players, and our signs were ripped down, and our requests ignored. We will not dedicate the staff hours and money when we are obligated to use our time and funds to serve our members, daily visitors, and the mission of Gilbert House Children’s Museum. We have already spent a large amount of time, energy, and money to deal with issues related to Pokémon GO.

Gilbert House did not ask to be a part of the Pokémon GO game. No one asked for permission to have Pokéstops in front of the children’s museum. We have submitted several requests to Niantic, the maker of the game, to have the Pokéstops removed. We are still waiting to see if our requests will be honored. We hope these stops will be removed soon.

In the meantime, we are beefing up our security systems and surveillance equipment. On advisement from Salem Police Department, we are erecting NO TRESPASSING (from 6:00pm-8:00am) signs on Gilbert House property, which includes the parking lot under the Marion Street Bridge. We are monitoring the twenty parking spots in front of Gilbert House Children’s Museum located under the Marion Street Bridge. These twenty spots are reserved for visitors to Gilbert House Children’s Museum only, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are respecting and complying with the Riverfront Park closure between the hours of midnight and 5:00am.

We are so appreciative of the support and encouragement we have received from the community, several of whom also play Pokémon GO. We are grateful for those who have reached out to Gilbert House and for our daily visitors and members who come to Gilbert House to make new discoveries and memories together. Our first priority is safety. Gilbert House is committed to providing a safe and fun environment for Salem children and families. We strive to continuously improve the children’s museum and our mission to encourage and “inspire children to learn through creative play.”

Sincerely,
Gilbert House Children’s Museum Board and Staff

Ways you can help and support Gilbert House Children’s Museum:
• Email (info@acgilbert.org) or call us at the Museum (503-371-3631) with any questions or concerns.
• Contact your City Council representative with any concerns.
• Contact Niantic to request the removal of the Pokéstops at Gilbert House.