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Please be seated: Lions build benches for Unity Trail

Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Biking, in-line skating or walking can be an enjoyable way to spend the day on the Unity Trail, but not everyone has the lung power to pull of the whole thing. Fortunately, some new benches along the way will make comfortable resting spots for those who want to take a breather, or who just desire to take-in the day.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Grant Wisniewski and Ryan Mills work last week on one of the nine benches the Kenai Lions Club has built and installed along the Unity Trail between Kenai and Soldotna. The club has more benches planned.

"Last year was the first year we got them out. Currently we have seven benches along the Kenai Spur Highway, and there are requests in for two more," said Ryan Mills, a member of the Kenai Lions Club, the group responsible for implementing the benches along the trail.

Mills said the Lions would like to see and expansion of the area with benches.

"We'd like to see a spark in community interest to get the benches in Soldotna and along K-Beach Road, too," he said.

Benches can be sponsored by a family, business or in memory of an individual, according to Mills. These benches will have a sign, with the sponsor's name and phone number, that is 24 inches by 12 inches.

"The cost to sponsor a bench is $300 seasonally, and $250 to renew a sponsorship. There is also a $50 artwork charge if the sponsor wants to add a logo," he said.

Mills said proceeds raised from the bench sponsorship will go to a good cause.

"The money will be used for eye exams and medical treatment for children and adults. It also goes toward the Kenai Peninsula Clean-up and to Kenai public parks," he said.

While only recently implemented, the bench program was something the Lions -- and members Tim Wisniewski and Jack Castimore in particular -- began thinking about several years ago, Mills said.

"We researched different bench types to determine a product that would withstand elements," he said.

As to the construction, the Lions decided on benches that are basically do-it-yourself models, with plastic frames and treated lumber for the bench itself.

"We also considered aspects along the bike path such as vandalism or theft," he said.

Concrete tubes have been imbedded in the ground with a eye-bolt sticking out. The benches are chained down to make sure they remain securely where they are placed.

"We also store them indoors in the winter, so they will last longer," Mills said.

Locations for the benches also had to be carefully considered.

"The areas where we have placed benches is (Department of Transportation) land on the right of way. We determined from them that we would be able to place the benches. And, we made sure whichever area they were in, that we spoke with the closest property owners near the right of way, so that no one had any objections. People understood it was for beautification," Mills said.

For more information on sponsoring a bench, contact Ryan Mills by phone at 283-3333, or by e-mail at kenailions@yahoo.com.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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