One local business was tasked with design and another took care of production for 20 new benches that soon will be placed in downtown Seymour.
Seymour Main Street used a design created by Jim Noelker with Westwind Sign Co. for the backrest of the new benches and had Crane Hill Machine and Fabrication Inc. create them.
The steel benches were powder coated in black, and the middle of the backrest has a circular emblem with a train in the center, “Seymour” below it and “1852” above it to represent the year the city was founded.
The $16,000 cost of the 20 benches was covered through a grant Seymour Main Street received from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and a portion of the proceeds the nonprofit organization received from the Dancing with the Seymour Stars fundraiser.
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Tom Goecker, president of the Seymour Main Street board of directors, said he likes how the benches turned out.
“I had a chance to see one of them in the mockup stage, which was very interesting, and I was very pleased with the finished product,” he said. “They are very nice benches.”
The project ties into the organization’s goal of planning, promoting and preserving the city’s historic downtown area, Goecker said. The group plans events to get people downtown, helps business owners make repairs and improvements to their buildings and focuses on the upkeep of downtown.
“This is just one of the small things Main Street can do to keep our downtown fresh and inviting for people,” he said of the bench project.
Goecker said benches were first put in the downtown area in the mid-1980s as part of a streetscape project.
Around the early 2000s, those were replaced with 63 benches made of recycled plastic with a cast iron frame. Dollars generated from the city’s recycling helped cover that expense.
Now, there are only 47 of those benches in the downtown area, so Seymour Main Street decided to invest in new ones.
The new batch of benches is the first phase of a replacement project. Goecker said they will be placed along South Chestnut Street, starting around Bruce Street and ending near the railroad tracks.
The benches currently downtown will be placed in the city’s parks.
Goecker said the train emblem was used to match a design on the downtown public parking lot signs and the new bicycle racks, which also were made by Crane Hill Machine and Fabrication and will be placed downtown and at Schneck Medical Center.
This past year, Seymour Main Street had new street signs put up at some street corners in the downtown area. The organization hopes to keep adding those at other intersections.
It also plans to add wayfarer signs to direct people to different locations downtown.
“We’re trying to get the whole image throughout everything that we do,” Goecker said.
Noelker helped with the street signs and is doing lettering for the wayfarer signs, so the organization decided to also include him in the bench project.
Goecker and Jane Graessle, a member of the Seymour Main Street board, took Noelker’s design to Marshall Royalty, owner of Crane Hill Machine and Fabrication.
“We actually built a couple different prototypes to come up with something everyone was happy with,” Royalty said. “We’ve never built a bench before, so we wanted something that was comfortable, so we had to come up with something that had the right feel.”
The first one they made was too tall and just didn’t feel right, he said, so they tried another option, and it worked.
Royalty said it took five employees about two weeks to produce the 20 benches. That included people doing sawing, fitting, welding and powder coating. Stickers also were placed on the back of the benches to let people know who made them.
“We’re very happy to be involved in the program,” Royalty said. “We were very excited that they chose to stay local.”
When time and weather permit, Seymour Department of Public Works employees will begin placing the benches downtown.
Six bicycle racks also will be placed by DPW in the downtown. Four others were purchased by the Schneck Foundation to put on the hospital property.
For information about Seymour Main Street, visit seymourmainstreet.org.