Clarkstown Recreation & Parks Superintendent Jo Anne Pedersen told town board members that local families have approached her asking about placing plaques on park benches in memory of loved ones. She shared the requests with the Parks Board & Recreation Commission, which favored the idea, before bringing it before the town board at its Tuesday workshop.
Pedersen said the residents asked specifically about installing brass plaques on benches at Congers Train Station Park and Congers Lake Memorial Park. She noted it is a common practice elsewhere. New York allows memorial plaques in its state parks on benches and trees and they can be seen on benches at the New Jersey shore.
Pedersen asked the town board for its input on whether plaques should be permitted and if they should be limited to town parks or allowed in other parts of the community such as along Main Street in New City.
“Should we just stick to our parks?” asked Pedersen.
Her second question was if the town established a commemorative program if the donation should be limited to the cost of the plaque or the cost of the plaque plus the price of a tree or a bench. The cost of a plaque is approximately $150. Purchasing a tree can cost between $500 and $1,000 and the price of a bench ranges between $800 and $1,000.
“I was just trying to find a balance for everyone,” she said.
Pedersen stated that most of the town’s park benches are in good condition so replacements are not currently needed. She said if the town board decided to allow purchase of a plaque and tree or bench, the bulk of the money would be put into a separate account until there was a need to replace one of those items.
Board member Stephanie Hausner cautioned about setting some parameters for the proposed program.
“I just don’t want us to get to the point where there are plaques all over and it becomes an eyesore,” she said.
Council member George Hoehmann suggested Pedersen create a menu of options and fees for the board to consider. Supervisor Alex Gromack said there should be different criteria for other potential donors such as civic associations and businesses. A resident recommended that standardized wording be created.
Town Attorney Amy Mele suggested having the deputy town attorney look into what regulations might affect a commercial business applying to install a plaque.