By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Gold Beach Main Street (GBMS) — a community organization touting itself as “attempting to build a better Gold Beach” — working with funding from the Gold Beach Urban Renewal Agency (URA) has ovberseen the design, fabrication and installation of 13, two-seat, park benches throughout the main street and port areas of the city.

The steel benches with faux wood seats — the seats are actually precast concrete — were bolted to cement pads Wednesday, and GBMS volunteers then landscaped the surrounding areas. Bench areas unfinished Wednesday will be landscaped and decorated in the future.

GBMS President Laurie Van Zante said GBMS would make each of the areas as park-like as possible, with improvements including gravel areas, plants and trees.

Gold Beach City Councilor and URA Chair Tamie Kaufman acted as the liaison between the URA and GBMS. She said she assisted GBMS in putting a plan together and facilitated bringing the plan (and revised plan) to the URA.

“They (GBMS) did all the work,” Kaufman said. “I just did a little talking and communicating to help everyone understand what was happening and why they ended up with changes. They are a great group of hard workers.”

The URA approved about $27,000 for the project, nearly all the money needed, according to Van Zante. But picking sites for the benches was a challenge, she said. The city does not own the sidewalks, and GBMS approached private business owners and asked for permission to install the benches. She said the group would like to add more benches in the future.

Ferguson Fabrication built the steel benches to withstand coastal weather. The frames have a zinc-based powder undercoat and a super-durable topcoat, according to owner Bill Ferguson, noting multiple coats were applied.

Each bench has a wave theme built into its back, and Van Zante said GBMS intended to use this theme throughout its improvements in the city. The theme could be included in fences and signage as well as other practical or decorative structures, and the waves represent the city’s ocean and river fronts.

Natural Creations cast the seats and colored them to look like thick wooden slabs. Natural Creations owner Joseph Johnson said the seats are weather resistant and attractive because of their concrete construction.

People admiring the benches were surprised to find the seats were not wood after seeing them and running their fingers along the grain — no splinters.

Next up for GBMS

According to GBMS community coordinator Ariel Kane, GBMS has been awarded $167,000 through an Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant. The grant — given in conjunction with Oregon Heritage and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department — will allow GBMS to kick off its Historic Ellensburg Avenue Exterior Preservation Project and preserve 29733 and 29852 Ellensburg Avenue — Dan’s Ace Hardware and Sunset Station, two of the city’s oldest buildings.

Dan’s Ace Hardware inhabits the original Gold Beach Hospital, Kane said, noting the modern use of the building has been entirely different since the 1960s but it is of obvious community significance.

Sunset Station, built in the 1930s, originally serviced vehicular traffic. Current owner, Susan Golay, plans to open a cyclist service station and hostel for cycling tourists after the exterior has been preserved, Kane said.

Both property owners are eligible to pursue a National Historic Registry designation, and the preservation of the exterior will make this a more viable option, according to GBMS.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com

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