PORT ANGELES — More than 150 wooden park benches will be replaced this year by a recycled carbon fiber model manufactured in Port Angeles.
The Composite Recycling Technology Center, or CRTC, has teamed up with the city of Port Angeles’ Parks and Recreation Department and local artist Bob Stokes to create “Project Pigeon,” a lightweight, durable and easy-to-clean carbon fiber bench that will be used in the city’s new Adopt-A-Bench program.
The benches are the first made of recycled aerospace-grade carbon fiber and the CRTC is now taking orders for them.
The recycled carbon fiber benches will replace the 16- to 26-year-old wooden benches that line the Port Angeles Waterfront Trail, Boat Haven and City Pier.
They will be installed in a reconfigured pattern on the waterfront and in some city parks this fall, Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said.
“I just think it’s a neat change,” Delikat said in a Friday interview.
“It’s a great partnership with a local company and I think it’s going to be really successful.”
The Stokes-designed, CRTC-manufactured carbon fiber benches are scratch-resistant, rot- and insect proof and will hold up well in the marine environment, Delikat said.
“Three big football players could easily sit on this,” said Dave Walter, CRTC chief executive officer, in a Feb. 20 demonstration for the Port Angeles City Council.
“It’s going to hold a lot of weight.”
Delikat said the new benches could last up to 50 years.
The city’s new Adopt-A-Bench program replaces the Memorial and Donation program that it administered from 1991 to 2002.
The wooden benches that were dedicated along the waterfront in the 1990s are “just past their life span,” Delikat said.
“We want to reach out to the original participants and offer spots,” Delikat said of the new program.
CRTC is providing the carbon fiber benches to the city for the $2,500 it costs to manufacture them. The suggested retail price is $4,500 per bench, according to a CRTC news release.
The city will recover its costs through the Adopt-A-Bench program.
Families and individuals who paid $800 to $1,200 for a memorial bench in the 1990s will be offered a 10-year memorial plaque on a carbon fiber bench for $2,500, Delikat said.
New bench adopters will pay $3,500.
“The reason why we want to make money is to have a sustainable program and make sure these benches last a long time — and have money to replace them,” Delikat said.
Non carbon-fiber benches range anywhere from $800 to $10,000, Delikat said.
Each carbon fiber bench will have a ceramic plaque on the back-support that can display color images like a loved one’s photograph or military emblem.
Bench adopters can choose where they want their bench with final approval from the city.
Last week, the parks department mailed information about the Adopt-A-Bench program to those who have existing memorials.
“It’s a sensitive issue,” Delikat said.
“I want to take the time to make sure families are notified and let them know what our plans are.
“We want to develop a new program and a new policy,” Delikat added, “but at the same time, we want to be very respectful of the people who have memorial benches.”
New benches along the Waterfront Trail, Boat Haven and City Pier will be tan and green. They will be more dispersed than the current benches, Delikat said.
Benches that are dedicated in neighborhood parks will be postal blue with grey legs, matching the new color scheme at Civic Field.
Each bench will have a CRTC logo and city logo on the carbon fiber legs.
Port Angeles will be the first city to have recycled, aerospace-grade carbon fiber benches in its park system, Walter said at the Feb. 20 unveiling.
“Everything is going to be made here in Port Angeles,” Walter told the City Council.
“As this gets scaled, I easily see us bringing on 10 people to be making the benches.”
Walter said the 75-pound benches are highly durable and “very easy to clean.”
“If there’s graffiti on here, you could power wash it off,” Walter said.
“We think that the longevity and the life cycle cost for this are really, really good.”
Walter added that the benches are “just the beginning” for the CRTC.
“There could be other opportunities for a trash can, for a picnic table, lots of things that we could make out of carbon fiber for the parks and recreation industry,” Walter said.
Delikat agreed, saying the “ideas are endless.”
“We waste so much taxpayer dollars on vandalism, things getting broken, and we’re constantly replacing things,” Delikat told the council.
“Every time I see something, I’m like: ‘Can we make that out of carbon fiber?’”
Councilwoman Cherie Kidd said the carbon fiber benches could be the “birth of a new economy.”
“I think this has potential to meet the needs of every town, every city, every park and recreation department across our country and internationally,” Kidd said.
“I think we have something great here.”
For information on the city’s Adopt-A-Bench program, phone Rob Merritt at the city Parks and Recreation Department at 360-417-4523.
Those interested in purchasing a bench or learning more about the offering can visit the CRTC’swebsite at www.compositerecycling.org/bench.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].