When was the last time your municipality conducted a study of their Park Benches?
The city of Norwich in eastern England recently initiated a project to survey the location and condition of their park benches along with other factors. They came up with some results that surprised them.
Here’s a quick overview of what they discovered:
- There were 412 park bench seats
- Those benches created a capacity of 1,582 places to sit
- 234 park benches had backs
- 122 had armrests
- There were 112 benches with both back and armrests
- 68 park benches required cleaning
- 37 benches needed repairs
- It was recommended that 88 benches were best to be avoided altogether because of their condition
- There were some great spots, some with river views, that had no benches
Interesting results for sure.
We’re also sure that the majority of parks and recreation directors and facility managers have a good understanding of their park bench inventory and the condition of the benches.
But as you can see from the Norwich survey, it might not be a bad idea to conduct a survey from time to time.
It also might be a good idea to involve local citizens to get perhaps a different viewpoint on the effectiveness of your park bench program.
Study on Park Benches
Questions might focus on finding:
- Park benches in immediate need of repair or replacement. Check wooden benches for splintering or broken planks. Inspect the frames for all benches and tighten or replace any loose hardware. Check metal benches for broken welds or any signs of rust or corrosion which will eventually weaken the metal over time.
- Park benches that could use some TLC to get them clean and usable
- Benches that continually seem to need cleaning. Maybe this is caused by users. Or mold and mildew. Perhaps it would be smart to replace those benches with thermoplastic-coated benches that are super-easy to maintain. Also, these metal benches can be ordered with perforated metal where liquids or spills cannot gather.
- Areas that regularly suffer from vandals with spray paint cans. Thermoplastic metal paints also repel graffiti which makes it easy to remove the paint. You certainly don’t want the public to continually be subjected to vulgar or offensive writing on your benches.
- Bench usage. Perhaps there are several park benches in place, but nobody seems to sit on them. Maybe adding benches with backs and armrests will make a difference. Or, it’s time to move them to test another location.
- Benches that attract litter. Sure, a bench might be in great shape, with great views, but the sight of litter can certainly put a damper on the experience. Maybe add trash receptacles in these high-litter areas.
- Areas that might have been overlooked for a park bench and would be a welcome spot to add one. As we saw in the Norwich report, those involved discovered there were a few locations that would be a perfect place for a bench. This is where the input of local citizens could be helpful. Perhaps they know several spots that are popular and would be complemented with an inviting place to sit.
Choice of park benches
When you think of park benches, most people think of traditional wooden benches.
However, there are alternatives. They might be a better choice depending on the environment and location.
Here are a few to consider:
Metal benches: park benches manufactured with steel are becoming more popular for a number of reasons. For one, they can be coated with a powder-coated material or thermoplastic coating to extend their life. These benches won’t splinter or rot and won’t require sanding or repainting. The use of metal for the seat, back and frame also allows for a choice of several vibrant colors.
Thermoplastic-coated park benches are exceptionally durable (since the metal is basically dipped in a tough polyethylene copolymer fluidized bath that is then oven-dried and hardened into a protective shell). A thermoplastic bench will repel the sun’s damaging UV rays and won’t crack or rot. This coating is impact resistant and impervious to mold, mildew and salt air. They are super-easy to clean, usually with just soap and water or a mild industrial cleaner, and they also repel spray paint. This finish won’t crack, peel or fade.
Concrete benches: one of the big advantages of concrete benches (also referred to as cement benches) is their incredible durability. After all, these benches are built like concrete bunkers. Most of these park benches are manufactured with steel-reinforced concrete to make them sturdy and long-lasting. And surprisingly, concrete benches don’t just have to resemble a plain sidewalk look but can be ordered in a variety of polished and smooth surfaces. Those surfaces can also be covered in several different colors from sand, tan, charcoal, terra cotta and others.
Recycled plastic benches: incredible strides have been made in the manufacture of recycled plastic park benches. These benches, made with 100% recycled materials, have made huge leaps in terms of quality. The plastic planks are processed with refined high-density polyethylene pellets found in HDPE #2-rated products such as milk jugs and laundry detergent containers. That hardier grade of plastic has several positive qualities. For example, those planks won’t rot, warp or splinter. Some are so durable, they come with a 50-year warranty against rotting, decay or termites, one of the best warranties in the commercial site furnishing industry.
In addition, when your municipality or facility orders recycled plastic benches, they are supporting the environment and completing the recycling cycle of Collection, Manufacturing and Reuse. The installation of these benches can certainly be included in any sustainability initiatives that are commonly being practiced at facilities today across the US, both public and private.
Things change. Perhaps the state of your park bench inventory is different than it was five years ago.
As we all know, sitting on a comfortable bench with a great view in clean surroundings is a rewarding, relaxing and precious experience for many citizens.
Perhaps it’s time to take a new look at your park benches like Norwich, get others involved to give you a fresh perspective and make any necessary improvements.