The Washington parks bench adoption program has been so successful the city is lacking options for new benches.
Parks Director Darren Dunkle informed the park board at the Feb. 20 administration meeting that the city has filled just about every available location with a bench along the Missouri River front and at Lions Lake. Dunkle said he would like to stop the adoption program at those two places.
“This program has been a very good program for the parks department, however, we’re getting to the point on the riverfront trail and around Lions Lake where we’re just running out of space to put benches,” Dunkle said. “Unless we just put bench after bench after bench, I think, right now, we need to put a moratorium on those two locations.”
Dunkle said while it may not look like space is limited, new Americans With Disabilities Act requirements prevent the department from just placing a bench.
“Any time you put in a park bench, you have to make it ADA acceptable,” Dunkle said. “You can’t just put it anywhere. You have to pour a sidewalk and all that. Some locations just aren’t amenable to benches.”
Dunkle said there are plans for six more benches along the Lions Lake trail with three already ordered and ready to be installed once the weather breaks.
“Once those are done, we have no more room along the trail,” Dunkle said.
Dunkle said the lack of space could soon be a problem at Phoenix Park as well. He said it could take a couple more, but not many.
The proposed dog park on Simonds Avenue was mentioned as a place to put new benches if people want to continue adopting benches.
With a dwindling need for benches, board member Dan Cassette suggested the sponsorship program could switch focus to another area. He asked if it would be possible to get picnic tables instead. Dunkle was open to the idea.
“We can do a picnic table program,” Dunkle said.
Dunkle told the board a bench and installation costs around $1,000. He said a picnic table and installation would be around $400.
Cassette said he would be in favor of switching the program to a table program because it would be cheaper.
“You could basically get three tables for the cost of one bench,” he said.
Dunkle said before they switched focus, he would check to make sure plaques could be placed on new picnic tables. He said the style of tables that will be used at the All-Abilities Park aren’t like the old style tables and may not be able to have plaques.