In April 2021, Robert Tillotson and his wife Lee King were walking the Balboa Dam Trail. Noting the poor condition of many of the commemorative benches along the trail, Rob decided to talk to the Woodworkers Club Board about taking on the restoration of the benches as a project.
Because all the Village trails’ benches should eventually be restored, the extent of the project was such the Board decided they should work on the project in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department and the Trails Committee. The project was presented to a meeting of the Trails Committee with a Recreation Department representative present and sparked a lot of conversation and planning.
Unfortunately, personnel changes at the Parks and Recreation Department and lack of funding delayed any action on the project for a year until June 2022.
Ginger Ladehoff, Marina and Outdoor Recreation Manager, began coordinating the project for the Parks and Recreation Department and working with both Buzz Carpenter, Chairperson of the Trails Committee, and Rob Tillotson of the Woodworkers Club. Progress began to be made. Funds were allocated by the POA for the purchase of enough material to finish 15 benches, although getting the material was delayed by supply issues. By the beginning of August, wood was available, and inscription of the boards by the Woodworkers commenced.
Ginger’s team replaced the boards as they became available with the inscriptions and the first 15 benches were completed by September 22, 2022.
The current plan is for a multiyear (or continuing) project to restore all the benches that need work. Next, the DeSoto Multipurpose Trail will be tackled.
The restoration of the benches has sparked the interest of Villagers who would like to sponsor new benches commemorating their relatives and/or friends. These sponsors have contacted the POA to coordinate the purchase of materials, inscription, and installation of the bench. If you would like to make arrangements for a bench to honor a friend or relative, please contact Ginger Ladehoff by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 501-915-2255.
It is important to note that this project is a collaboration of these three organizations: HSVPOA Parks and Recreation Department, HSV Woodworkers, and HSVPOA Trails Committee. Additionally, the Friends of the Trails assisted with the installation of the benches.