Problem Solver - August 2008
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Selecting Site Furnishings

Building a park is a big project, and the little details can often get overlooked. If you want to ensure your park is inviting and comfortable for visitors, you should make the selection of site furnishings a strategic part of your design plan from the very beginning of the project.

Q: What types of furnishings should we consider for our site?

A: Depending on the uses you'll expect at your site, you should be sure to include furnishings to meet every patron's need. That means including benches, picnic tables and grills for patrons who want to picnic or just sit and enjoy the view, trash and recycling receptacles and ash urns to ensure refuse ends up where it belongs, and bike racks if you expect people to ride to your site.

Furnishings are available in an enormous variety of styles that will suit your needs, from traditional to modern and everything in between. And if you really want to match furnishings to your site, you can ask your manufacturer about customization options. For example, benches can be designed to follow a curving walkway, or you can have your logo or mascot designed into a receptacle.

Q: What type of material will work best?

A: Furnishings are available in a range of materials, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. If you want something long-lasting that can be purchased in a color to match your location, you should consider steel with a powder-coat finish. Furnishings made with steel are heavy and sturdy, and it will be easier to remove graffiti from the finish.

For a more natural look, consider wood furnishings—always a popular choice at public parks and more rustic areas. Look for manufacturers that use high-grade woods. Just be aware that wood may weather over time. You'll want to inspect your furnishings on an annual or semi-annual basis and tighten or replace loose or missing hardware. Check for cracks and splits and repair or replace if necessary. If there are splinters, you can sand them down.

If you're looking for an environmentally friendly option, check out the recycled plastic furnishings that are available. Made from post-consumer bottle waste, these products are more than 90 percent recycled, and are also available in a number of colors to suit your needs. It also is easy to clean with a household cleaner when needed. Graffiti can be removed with a high-pressure washer, while severe scratches and other damage can be sanded down.

DuMor Inc.: