After months of planning, downtown benches arrive

POULSBO — The wait for new benches in downtown is finally over as the first batch arrived this week after a seemingly endless series of delays that left many wondering if they’d ever make it.

For months, Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association President John Kuntz made plans to install the dark blue benches along Front Street by this year’s Viking Fest, only to get a last-minute call saying there had been yet another delay. Two benches had already been installed in December, but assembly delays prevented the rest of the orders from being filled.

However, an early Wednesday morning phone call delivered a call to action as Kuntz quickly organized a group of volunteers to install the 18 new arrivals by that afternoon.

“We’ve been working on this project for as long as I can remember and that’s been about five years,” Kuntz said as he helped Rocky and Rafael Martinez from Urban Accessories of Tacoma load the 600-pound benches onto a trailer at the Poulsbo library.

The benches, which feature the HDPA logo and embossed lettering on each end, quickly made their way from the library to downtown, where traffic was stopped as workers hurried to set them in place under the watchful eye of HDPA Beautification Chairman Jim Wise, who owns Checkers Espresso & Gallery.

“That one goes right here, in front of the barber shop,” Wise instructed workers as they placed the first of the 18 newly-arrived benches into place.

Wise then quickly moved to help situate another bench and made a few minor adjustments before giving them the final OK.

“They look great, don’t they,” Wise remarked as visitors to downtown wasted little time in helping break in the new arrivals.

On Thursday morning, a visibly relieved Kuntz said it felt great to have the first 20 benches finally in place.

“It’s a lasting tribute to the people who sponsored the benches and it’s an incredible gift to the downtown association and the city as well,” he said.

While the ultimate goal remains to have 80 of the handcrafted benches sprinkled throughout the area, Wednesday’s arrival was an important start, Kuntz explained.

Even though the benches cost $1,700 each, they are worth the cost because they’re not stamped from a machine and represent a high quality of craftsmanship, he said, adding that work on the benches is not yet complete as the sponsorship plaques for them have not been delivered.

“They’ll be arriving in a few weeks and they’re bronze, so they’ll really stand out,” he said.

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