Donated bench policy narrows style, lifetime
NEW CANAAN — A plethora of bench styles around town is about to go down to three. And instead of standing indefinitely, their lifetime will be limited to 10-year renewable periods.
For Parks and Recreation Commission Chairwoman Sally Campbell and fellow commissioners, this policy, which is still in draft mode, is an effort to streamline the aesthetics of the parks.
“This is a simple thing to beautify the parks and have consistent looks for each of them,” Campbell said. “We spent the summer identifying certain styles that we wanted.”
The commissioners explained the policy had been based upon those of other towns, as well as that of Central Park in New York City.
A draft of the policy outlines 10 key points, the most significant being the donation period is now limited to 10 years. After said time is up, the donor can renew their bench at the cost of a new donation or, if not renewed, the Parks Department can remove or rededicate the bench.
Other points outline no logos, birth or death dates are permitted. “Messages should be simple statements recalling the event or person(s) recognized,” the policy reads.
Recreation Director Steve Benko estimated more than 100 benches have been dedicated over the past 30 years, some of which have been removed after several years.
With budget season around the corner, a $3,000 request is expected to be made for the Parks Department operating budget earmarked to help clean and put benches back into circulation.
Campbell said Benko and Parks Superintendent John Howe would be in charge of buying benches for the parks, each matching their respective settings, which include athletic fields or passive recreation fields.
Howe, in coordination with the Public Works department, will be in charge of monitoring benches and will make the call as to whether a bench is retired or maintained.
“Some benches hold well and we do have some around town that are over 20 years old,” Howe said. “The biggest complaints are about the benches that are under a tree, as they might have some mold and we would need to get them cleaned up every year.”