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HDPA is stepping up for a place to sit down

POULSBO — Dwindling seating in downtown Poulsbo has Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association members up in arms.

And they’re hoping the community will get behind them as they embark upon one of their biggest fund-raisers ever.

The non-profit HDPA is seeking sponsors for new benches for the shopping district. In all, they’re hoping to sell 80 of the $1,650 seats — to raise a total of about $150,000.

“You’re making a contribution to the history of Poulsbo,” HDPA President John Kuntz said of the offer. “This is a donation for all time.”

The new benches will be a replacement for the traditional wooden models that have stood in the downtown since the 1980s. Forty benches were originally bought by the HDPA and were hand-rosemaled to reflect the Scandinavian heritage of Poulsbo. But over the years, weather has taken its toll on many of them and today, only 13 remain. The rest became too rotten and unstable to be safe for use and had to be removed.

“I started five years ago when I became beautification chairman,” Kuntz said of his personal crusade to replace the benches. “I had to find someone to re-varnish them. Just the frustration and the realization it had to be done every year was what got me.”

In contrast, the new benches will be made of forged and welded steel with a powder-coating of paint. Kuntz said he doesn’t expect them to ever need any maintenance, but that the seating can be easily repaired and repainted.

“Theoretically, it’s an indefinite life,” commented HDPA Beautification Chair Jim Wise, owner of Checkers Espresso and Gallery. “They’re really a lifetime product.”

A sample of the new benches, made by Tacoma company Urban Accessories, is now on display outside of Kuntz’s Olympic Outdoor Center off Front Street. The only difference between it and the ones that will soon grace downtown has to do with customization. Poulsbo’s version will be #“Poulsbo blue” like downtown’s planters and light poles and bear a banner on either end with the Norwegian flag and Viking ship motif of the HDPA’s logo. The arms, usually stamped with the name of the manufacturer, will instead bear the words “City of Poulsbo.”

“So that will make it very Poulsbo,” Wise said.

Urban Accessories was the company that also made the tree guards and gates on the New Havne Veien walkway.

Each bench will also include a 3-inch by 10-inch brass plaque that will be hand-engraved with words of the sponsor’s choosing.

“There would be room for quite a bit of information so if someone wants to give a bench as a memorial, there would be room to mention that,” Wise said.

Each bench price also includes matching trash cans and ash urns for downtown.

“But we figured no one wanted to have their name on a trash can,” Kuntz said with a laugh.

The drive is aiming to put 80 of the seating areas throughout the HDPA boundaries including Front Street from the Marine Science Center to Gran Kirk, Jensen Way, Waterfront Park and the New Havne Veien walkway. While the HDPA has no formal goal for raising the entire $150,000, Kuntz would like to show off the new look by Little Norway’s biggest event.

“My personal goal is to have at least 40 benches in place by Viking Fest,” Kuntz said. “Sixty would be great. Eighty would be incredible.”

Sidebox:

Buy a bench for downtown

Price: $1,650 plus tax

Information and order forms will soon be available at all downtown shops and at Poulsbo City Hall.

Information: Nancy Miller (360) 697-3366 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday

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