Bob Stokes, Corey Delikat and Dave Walter, from left, collaborated on a pilot project to build prototype park benches out of recycled composite plastic that was outlined last week at a Port Angeles City Council meeting. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Bob Stokes, Corey Delikat and Dave Walter, from left, collaborated on a pilot project to build prototype park benches out of recycled composite plastic that was outlined last week at a Port Angeles City Council meeting. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Pilot project to use recycled carbon fiber composite for Port Angeles park benches

PORT ANGELES — The city Parks and Recreation Department is providing $10,000 in seed money for a pilot project with the Composite Recycling Technology Center to build a first-of-its kind park bench.

The city and CRTC are teaming up with metal sculptor Bob Stokes of Port Angeles to build two prototype benches that the city will buy for $10,000, Delikat told the Port Angeles City Council last Tuesday.

Delikat said Thursday the benches could revolutionize an amenity vital to parks and urban landscapes nationwide.

“If this is going to turn into something really big and it’s going to be municipalities and counties that buy this kind of product, if they can reference the city starting it, it’s a really important part of it,” he said.

CRTC Chief Operations Officer Dave Walter said Thursday that if successful, production of benches by using the Port Angeles technology center’s recycled carbon fiber composite materials could add 10 jobs to the fledgling nonprofit’s employee roster, almost doubling its current staff list.

Walter said it would be the CRTC’s second manufactured product, following the recent production startup of a $99 pickleball paddle, about 100 of which have been sold — including one recently to a customer in France.

“There’s not a carbon fiber bench out there in today’s market,” Walter said.

“If this becomes an offering for us, I think there are opportunities outside what the city is interested in for benches.”

Stokes, who will be compensated by the CRTC as the project’s consultant designer, said Thursday he thought of the idea around the end of December while walking his dog past wasted city benches along Port Angeles’ waterfront Olympic Discovery Trail.

Delikat said Thursday most of the 127 cedar benches that line the Olympic Discovery Trail, and the approximately 70 other benches in the city, are decrepit after at least 15 years of usage. The current benches, installed in the early 1990s, have an expected 20-25-year lifespan.

Delikat reached an agreement with the CRTC in April to build the two prototype benches. Ninety colors are available.

The city will reimburse the CRTC for up to $10,000 in costs, or $5,000 per bench.

The $10,000 will be drawn from an approximately $20,000 maintenance park bench maintenance fund.

Delikat said test panels for the seats will be mounted on a table or other flat surface at the waterfront and the Race Street skateboard park this month to test their durability and “cleanability,” Walter said.

Two benches are expected to be built by July and prototypes placed at The Gateway transit center and Jessie Webster Park in August.

With their lifespan and durability, the pilot project “eventually will pay for itself, for sure,” Delikat predicted.

“This is the kind of product, as hardy as it is, that has a lot of implications it could be used for,” Delikat said.

“It think this type of product is a material that’s needed in the parks and recreation industry. We spend a lot of tax dollars on things we put in parks that continue to get vandalized.”

The benches that line the trail may be the worst off of the bunch.

Delikat said they’ve been defaced by graffiti, carved into, had their brackets bent, been pounded by rain, shrouded in salt air, and generally compromised in ways that don’t affect impervious carbon fiber.

Graffiti can be easily removed from the coated carbon fiber, Walter said Thursday

The benches also will be vandalism-resistant in being less easily scratched and, compared to aluminum, would be more easily repairable and not as susceptible to heat and cold, he said.

Walter said the cost to develop the benches will exceed the city’s contribution.

They must be tooled and molded by hand with a chopping machine that must still be built, Walter said.

“It will be a lot of hand labor to build those two,” Walter said. “We don’t have anything mechanized at this point. “It’s a loss for us but it’s OK as an investment.”

The seat and back of the benches will be curved for comfort, with rings or stubs capable of dividing the seats into three sections to make them uncomfortable to sleep on.

In addition, knobs could jut from the edges to make the benches skateboard proof.

The benches’ design is based on benches Stokes designed for the city’s West End Park, which opened in September 2015.

Stokes said Thursday the idea for the bench came to him while he was carrying around in his pocket a Dec. 2 Peninsula Daily News article announcing production of the CRTC’s pickleball paddle.

Designing benches out of aerospace-grade carbon fiber scraps is new territory for Stokes.

“The joke was, I’ve worked with everything from silk to heavy metal,” he said Thursday.

“This is kind of new to me, so I went into a kind of vicious learning curve.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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