New benches have been installed on the Ped Mall at College and Dubuque streets. Friday and Saturday night concerts draw hundreds to this site from May to September. The new benches in the performance radius will better accommodate large attendances. Many six-foot benches with historic iron frames and artistic painting remain.
While attending 30 years of crowded Ped Mall performances, I’ve often seen one or two people sit in the middle of a 6-foot bench that could comfortably hold three or four. The new style of benches have three equal sections, each is large enough for a couple, children, or a larger person. This arrangement encourages new acquaintances to share the music together. The new city benches with armrests support disabled and others to settle into and rise out of benches more safely.
There has been a protest over arm rest benches because they prevent reclining in the performance area. There are still 20 or 30 historic benches for homeless and sunbathers. An easy compromise is to retain all remaining historic benches away from the performance area. Their painted motifs are refreshing, colorful public art that personalize the Ped Mall.
Let’s acknowledge the city’s partnership with organizations to build short-term and now long-term housing for hundreds of homeless.
Thanks to our current council for its response to input and support of diverse needs downtown.