City focuses on benches

The deteriorating state of existing community benches in Armstrong has council taking action

The deteriorating state of existing community benches in Armstrong has led to the city creating a new community bench program policy.

Since the city acquired two benches to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2013, the public has been asking about participating in a memorial bench program.

“The city does not have a former program in place and instigating a policy would help with replacing old benches in a timely fashion,” said Coun. Steven Drapala, chairperson of the city’s public works committee.

Drapal requested that staff look into creating a community bench program that is open to various types of recognition, not just memorials.

Highlights of the policy include anybody being able to participate in the program and can dedicate a bench for various reasons.

Staff will maintain a map indicating the locations of existing and future benches, and will consult with the donor in determining the location of the bench dedication.

Donations are for a 15-year period and donors can apply for a renewal of the program. They’ll also receive an income tax receipt.

Staff reserves the right to determine the level of maintenance required for each bench or to relocate benches if necessary.

The cost to participate in the program is $1,700, which led Coun. Shirley Fowler to ask if there could be cost-sharing written into the policy so that one individual or group wouldn’t have to cover the entire cost.

“The thought was we could possibly include that (cost-sharing) on the application form and not necessarily write it within the policy,” said Drapala.

The $1,700 includes the cost of the bench, shippping, installation and a bronze plaque with inscription.

The policy does not allow for buying a plaque without a bench but, upon renewal of the program, just a bench can be purchased with the plaque transferred onto it.

Staff will include regular bench maintenance in its annual budget as part of the program.

Council members unanimously supported the new policy.