Problem Solver - August 2007
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Outfitting a Trail

We're looking to outfit our new trail. What are the first steps we should be taking?

Fortunately for you, the industry offers countless furnishings that can help turn average spaces into very special places. Selecting the perfect elements, however, can be a bit daunting. With a little forethought and effort you can dress your trail to impress.

Site furnishings and amenities need to be a strategic part of the design plan from the very beginning with a budgeted line item all their own. Relegating furnishings and amenities to the end of the process could likely result in a functional—yet underutilized and unattractive—trail.You may grapple with the myriad furnishing materials available. When making your selection, remember that each material has its own benefits and drawbacks. Recyclable materials, for example, are environmentally friendly, vandalism-resistant and require little maintenance.

Your most important purchase most likely will be your receptacles. In bucolic settings, the last thing people want to think about is trash. But if recreation managers make garbage the last thing they consider, it'll be the first thing patrons notice. Trash cans and recycling receptacles with muted colors such as browns and greens often blend in best with their surroundings. Along trails, animal-proof receptacles make good sense. Planners also should be careful not to place trash cans and recycling bins too close to picnic areas. Trash can attract bees and other insects, which can make the experience unpleasant for patrons. Your best bet is to put them at least 10 to 25 feet away from seating areas. After selecting trash cans, you must turn your attention to benches. When deciding where to place your benches, consider putting them near something. Visually anchor the bench to a place with a substantial planter, a decorative wall or scenic spot. Placing benching in an easily visible area provides a sense of security, as well as reducing vandalism, vagrancy and loitering.

Consider purchasing your trail amenities in bulk. Many parks departments prefer bulk purchases because it makes finding replacement parts easier and reduces manpower. They also help ensure that everything purchased follows certain codes (like the Americans with Disabilities Act) and can withstand the local elements. This will give you a cohesive look, but don't let it be your only option. While it may eliminate the hodgepodge appearance of some communities, it also may give your trails a boring, tedious look.

Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls Inc.: