Supplement Feature - April 2012
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Site Spectacular

Finding the Right Park Furnishings

By Rick Dandes

Don't Break the Bank

Everyone is facing a budget crunch these days, Hughes said. In Norwalk, "we have had some luck with sponsorship programs, where a bench donation will get the donor a bench with a plaque. If you have the manpower, some fixes on furnishings can be done in-house. Our carpenter just renovated all of our picnic tables. A quick coat of paint, and they look like new at a fraction of the cost. We recently purchased some concrete refinishing kits to address wear issues on some concrete tables."

Hagstette, in Houston, noted that with the situation in Washington, D.C., all bets are off when it comes to grants. "But if the park is popular," he said, "I would think that re-sold benches could make you some money. We did that at Discovery Green. We sold 20 at $4,500 apiece. That's a classic way to raise some funds, which we used to buy other benches. You can also try to get money from individuals, asking them to make charitable donations. You could offer some type of sponsorship to companies that are interested in having their brand or their name in the park and be seen as a good citizen."

Hagstette, however, said his group had to decline one company that wanted to give them all the trash receptacles—with their name on it. "We decided that was not a good idea," he said.

"The projects I've been involved in have been privately funded," Hagstette continued. "Whether it's benches, lawns or garden areas—whatever it may be you're thinking about—trying to identify individuals, foundations and companies in the area that might be interested in having their name associated with it is the way to go. It's worked pretty well for us. Parks are becoming a more popular civic initiative in Houston, and local individuals and organizations are willing to give bigger dollar amounts to help fund them."