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RACINE — The City of Racine is working to ease donors’ ability to contribute benches to local parks.

Officials are exploring the issue on the request of 5th District Alderman Steve Smetana and 6th District Alderman Sandy Weidner. The option exists already, Weidner said, but she finds it cumbersome and not user-friendly for the potential donor. Weidner said she’d like to see the process simplified.

Weidner said she regularly sees donated memorial benches throughout parks in other communities and would like to see the same in Racine.

“Their parks are (full of) park benches that were donated by individuals in memory of a loved one, and I believe that the City of Racine would benefit by having a specific park bench donation program that was easy for individuals to use,” she said.

With Smetana, Weidner asked the city to create a formal policy that’s specific to bench donations so that people can easily see the available options and requirements.

The city’s Board of Park, Recreation and Cultural Services discussed at its meeting this week a draft of a brochure explaining how to make donations to city parks. The brochure describes types of donations people can make — such as trees, benches, plaques and bricks — along with the associated responsibilities.

Weidner said the brochure does not achieve what she was looking for, a sentiment she shared at the board’s proceedings on Wednesday, according to meeting minutes. She told The Journal Times she provided samples of programs in other communities, like the Milwaukee County community of Shorewood, for guidance.

Smetana directed inquiries about the matter to Tom Molbeck, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Molbeck declined an interview requesting information about how the proposal compares to existing policies and practices. He said in an email that the draft was for discussion, review and for people to suggest changes.

Molbeck told the board his staff would revise the proposal, the meeting minutes state. The board voted to defer taking action.



Sari Lesk covers the City of Racine, Gateway and UW-Parkside. She is new to the community and moonlights as an amateur baker.

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