Supplement Feature - April 2017
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A Place for Everything, Everything in Its Place

Furnishing Your Site Effectively

By Dave Ramont

Go Custom

Even with the wide array of products available, some customers still prefer the customizable route. "We provide custom and fabrication options to meet the needs of designers, architects, and project planners whose requirements aren't always met by off-the-shelf site furnishings," McCallum said. One can choose from their selection of materials or simply customize with plaques and lettering options.

Simonsen said they do a lot of custom signage for customers using plaques, cut steel, or engraved letters. "We also make a Sign Bench, which has a backrest frame to hold a large custom sign that can be changed when needed."

Outdoor benches are a perfect way to remember loved ones or showcase local organizations, according to Ross and Ogden, and they offer several styles of personalized and memorial benches. "Customers decide the exact text that appears on the benches, which is either engraved onto the bench or cast into a heavy bronze plaque." They also offer turnkey memorial and donor bench programs for communities, where organizations can create a simple and profitable program with residents supporting the cost of the benches.

The Campbell River, British Columbia Parks Department offers a Park Furniture Donation program, and interested parties can schedule a park/trail site visit with a parks staff member to select a location. They then provide their plaque wording—which must be approved by the Parks Department—and payment: A bench is $2,500, a table is $3,000. This includes the park furniture, the plaque, installation, maintenance and repair for 15 years. After that, the donor has the option to renew for an additional 10 years for a $500 maintenance fee.

Furnishing Roundup

Let's take a look at some of the most widely-used furnishings—things we're so used to seeing in public spaces that we barely notice them. Of course, there are hundreds of varieties of benches and picnic tables, some with shade options. "Shade is seeing widespread adaptation and is being applied in inventive ways," explained Munro.

Many trash receptacle options are available, as are lid options: drive-thru, push-door, funnel, dome, swing-top and pitch-in lid. Some containers are animal-proof, while others can feature advertising. Ross and Ogden point out that parks and facilities are becoming more eco-conscious, increasing the need for recycling receptacles. "Various communities recycle in different ways, and it's important to give custom options for recycling containers."

Simonsen's company offers a food storage locker designed for campgrounds in areas where bears are a natural part of the environment.

Cigarette receptacles and ash urns are commonplace. "Since smoking has moved more and more to the outdoors, cigarette receptacles are designed for high-volume use with less maintenance," Munro said.

Pet waste receptacles and litter bag dispensers are also appreciated additions.

Bicycles are everywhere, and so are bike racks, including grid racks, loop racks, circular racks, inverted 'U'-shaped racks, bollard racks and designer racks. "To encourage biking, communities are adding bike repair stations on bike trails, at parks and on city streets," said Ross and Ogden. These typically include a bike mount, air pump and retractable tools. Skateboard security racks are also available.

When thirsty, a drinking fountain is a welcome sight. Choose from freeze-resistant, dual-height, wall-mounted and vandal-resistant—with many featuring pet fountains, along with leash hooks, as well as bottle fillers. There are hand-wash stations and hand sanitizer dispenser stands.

Grills are a staple—Munro's company invented the ubiquitous park-grill featuring a swivel design, so users can turn away from prevailing winds, preventing fires. Grills can be multi-level, with optional covers, shelves and warming baskets. Hot ash receptacles and lantern posts can be handy.

Fire rings are popular, too—some have optional cooking grates. "I love the addition of a fire ring as part of park programming. The fire ring and its seating at Peck Farm Park in Geneva, Ill., is perfect for storytelling and group gatherings," Kelly said.

Signs and message centers are common components. There are single or double-sided versions, or three-sided kiosks. Many varieties of planters are available—some with seats or benches. And bollards, speed bumps, and car-stops provide safety and traffic control.

All of the above products come in a myriad of finishes and colors, shapes and sizes, made from many different materials. And that brings us back to the common bench—a product that helps inspire community, according to Munro. "Utilizing benches provides a great chance for the public to see or be seen, to relax and enjoy the landscape, maybe even make a new friend or two."