Newport Beach may tighten up its policy on memorial benches and trees.
The proposed changes, which the City Council will consider Tuesday, came about after the city realized donated park trees, benches and other fixtures required a significant and unanticipated amount of time and money to install and maintain.
People typically underwrite trees or benches, with dedicatory plaques, as memorials or tributes for friends and family around parks, beaches, trails and streets.
Proposed new rules would increase the maintenance fee to half of the estimated cost of upkeep over 10 years, disallow memorial language such as “In loving memory,” stop placing dedicatory plaques with trees and give the city the option to remove or replace the items after a decade.
The council suspended the donation program last year so the city Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission could work with staff to refine regulations.
At the time, staff said some areas were becoming overcrowded with placements, public rights-of-way were becoming heavily memorialized and that the cash donors paid toward their donated items — which included a 10% maintenance fee — was not covering the actual costs. There was also no defined lifespan before item removal.
Benches and trees are the most popular, but other amenities can include drinking fountains, picnic tables and barbecue grills. Costs varied widely, from $650 to $3,300 for a bench, $1,500 for a tree and $9,000 for a drinking fountain.
Grant Howald Park facelift
In other business, the council will consider approving a design and budget for an overhaul of Grant Howald Park.
The large park adjacent to Harbor View Elementary School covers 3 acres in Corona del Mar, at the corner of Goldenrod and Fifth avenues.
Proposed upgrades include new playground equipment, a synthetic turf field with LED lights and shaded picnic area, new trees, landscaping and walkways, bathroom renovations, and undergrounded utilities along the Fifth and Goldenrod frontages.
The price tag is $6.9 million with the utility undergrounding and $5.5 million without.
The council meeting starts at 5 p.m. with a study session, followed by the regular session at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.