The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission will consider at its Tuesday meeting whether donated memorial benches should require renewal every five years, along with $200 in extra fees to cover maintenance.
Families and friends often pay $1,000 to $2,000 or more for memorial benches to be placed in parks or overlooking the ocean, and the PB&R Commission approves each one.
But some prime locations have no more room for additional benches, including Begonia Park, where two benches approved last August put that park at bench capacity; read our story here.
At a Nov. 1, 2011 meeting, Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission members formed a bench committee to discuss the conditions of donated benches within the city, as well as the time the benches were to remain on city property — which currently is in perpetuity, according to a staff report. The committee met on Jan. 30 to discuss the current City Council policy, the staff report states.
“The Committee felt that most donors assumed their donated bench would be maintained and replaced ‘forever’ based on their one-time donation,” the staff report states. The one-time donation did not cover maintenance costs after five years, when benches typically need significant repairs, the staff report states.
The committee members also discussed whether some donors may lose interest in the donated benches.
“Families move or otherwise become disinterested or distanced from their donation,” the staff report states. “By requiring a renewal application from the original donor after five years, staff would be able to determine if the donor is still interested in maintaining their bench.”
If donors can’t be found or are not interested in the renewal, the that specific site would be available for another donor.
“Many times, especially in ocean view areas and popular park sites, prospective donors are turned way due to the fact that an existing donated bench is located at that site,” the report states.
The Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council, and if the City Council votes to implement the new policy, the process would begin with all new bench donations and not be retroactive, the report indicates.
The Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall at 3300 Newport Blvd. The public is welcome to attend and may make comments.