Franklin Square Park, which received an infusion of new playground equipment last year, now has one of the most high-tech park benches available.
Crews installed a solar-power bench on Tuesday that has Wi-Fi and plug-ins for park users to charge their smartphones. The solar cell does not require wires, and the wood is a dense hardwood that is sustainably harvested, said Jackie Rochefort, planner with the Parks and Recreation Department.
Rochefort said the device is the first such bench to be installed in Oregon, although New York, Boston and other East Coast cities have installed them. The bench is made by a company called SOOFA, which began in a media lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The city used a $3,870 grant from the Friends of Corvallis Parks & Recreation to pay for the bench.
The addition of the bench is the third major upgrade for the city’s oldest park, which was acquired by the city in 1899.
In 2015 a cooperative urban forestry project planted 10 trees in the area, one in the park itself and the others on the streets that surround it. The project was a collaboration between the city, the Job’s Addition Neighborhood Association, the Corvallis Odd Fellows and the Civic Beautification and Urban Forestry Advisory Commission.
Last year the city put in new playground equipment that replaced wooden play structures that were torn down in 2014 because of safety issues.
The playground project cost $125,000, with half of the money coming from a state grant. City funds and donations made up the difference, including a joint effort by the neighbors and Friends of Corvallis Parks and Recreation to make and sell tamales.