Supplement Feature - April 2020
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Everything In Its Place

Furnish Your Site the Right Way

By Deborah L. Vence

Choosing the Best Design

When it comes to selecting design elements for a park site, "This can depend on how you will let people use the available site amenities," Simonsen said. "Is it OK if the camper or picnicker moves the picnic table around the campsite or shelter? If 'yes,' then portable table and bench designs are available. If you prefer the furniture stays in one place, the embedded post or surface-mount frame designs are what you need.

"A permanent location," he said, "is usually required for campsite amenities such as grills and campfire rings. Most campgrounds don't want their customers moving fire rings around and burning in multiple locations. Potential theft is also a consideration. Picnic tables, benches, grills, campfire rings, trash receptacles and bike racks that can be permanently installed on site won't be subjected to theft."

Munro noted that "Most products have color samples that can be ordered from distributors prior to purchase to ensure color options [are] acceptable. Distributors do their best to represent the product accurately. If color sensitivity is a priority it's always best to see a sample in the environment it's going to be in."

In addition, "Budget always comes into play. If you don't see what you like on the shelf, there is always custom design, but it will inflate the budget," he said. "Local building codes may require certain specifications be met, especially when it comes to universal access (ADA guidelines). Space constraints also need to be factored in and volume of use. For trash receptacles, intervals of servicing may dictate the capacity required."

"There are three popular ways to install most amenities: portable use, surface mount and in-ground mount. Portable obviously offers freedom to adjust placement (although concrete may require extra muscle), surface mount typically use when the installation surface is pre-existing so the amenity can be bolted down. In-ground is where a section of the frame is inserted below grade (sometimes filled in with concrete) for ultimate permanence," Munro said.

Furnishings to Suit Your Needs

To decide on furnishings for a park site that best suit your needs, you have to "Consider the environmental conditions, volume of use, resources to maintain and aesthetics. Some amenities need to stand out and attract attention, while some are best when they blend in and almost disappear in their environment," Munro said.

Simonsen noted that "Almost all public facilities need to include some ADA-compliant wheelchair-accessible site features—picnic tables, benches, trash receptacles, even charcoal grills and campfire rings. How many people use your facilities at one time? You want to be sure to have plenty of trash receptacles nearby. People will use trash receptacles if they are within convenient reach. Seating is another consideration: Do you have enough benches in the area?"

Also consider, "What is your landscape theme? Playground areas and schools might want bright colors for children. Recycled plastic and coated steel components are available in many colors. Parks and campgrounds might prefer muted colors in the landscape," he added.

If there is a need to boost efficiencies, consider waste receptacles available with special added technology. "Through embedded sensors in each receptacle, [the technology] measures fill levels, temperatures, nearby foot traffic and countless other variables," Skalka said. "This real-time data is helping cities dramatically reduce wasted time, expenses and environmental impact by eliminating unnecessary collection runs."

Maintenance Tips

Any outdoor site amenity eventually will require maintenance. "But, you can minimize it," Simonsen said.

"For many steel components, we recommend the hot-dip-galvanized finish for maximum protection from the elements. These parts will never need to be painted," he said.

In addition, "thermoplastic-coated steel components are also very weatherproof as long as the coating is not violated. Recycled plastic is impervious to rot and insects," he said. "Coated steel and plastic parts can be washed off when required, but never need painting. The colors include a UV stabilizer to better withstand outdoor exposure."

Lumber components will require the most maintenance over time. "Treated lumber is better," Simonsen said, "but all lumber will be subjected to weather checking, sun fade and cracking caused by exposure. Untreated and treated lumber can be painted to slow down these weathering effects, but painting is labor-intensive."