Funky seats could be coming to De Pere
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Weary shoppers and happy dawdlers could soon take a load off in public benches and chairs shaped like hands, typewriter keys, animals or simply abstract squigglies.
Last month, the De Pere Common Council approved the purchase and placement of a number of these unusual settees as part of Definitely De Pere’s streetscape improvement program and its artistic seating project.
In April 2017, the Common Council approved $150,000 for streetscape improvements using excess stadium tax funds that municipalities received from the funding of Lambeau Field through an extra sales tax.
Definitely De Pere expects the project to cost around $30,000, which would come from the stadium tax fund sum allotted for streetscape improvements.
The City of De Pere received $1.2 million in excess stadium tax funds.
Definitely De Pere is in the early stages of seeking requests for proposals from artists for artistic seating concepts, so a dollar amount and number of artistic chair pieces that the seating project would involve isn’t yet nailed down.
The seats are to be installed at various locations along the main corridors of downtown, on the east and west sides of the Fox River, with the goal of providing seating that’s both functional and artistically interesting, said Tina Quigley, executive director of Definitely De Pere.
Locations include along the George Street corridor from Superior Street west to Broadway; Broadway from the bridge roundabout north to James Street; and Main Avenue from the bridge west to Fourth Street.
Quigley said she’s pleased and excited the Common Council approved the artistic seating project.
The idea for shaking things up with regard to public seating, she said, came from some photos of artistic outdoor public seating that a board member sent to her.
“Definitely De Pere hopes that the request for proposals (RFP) will result in the design, development and fabrication of an original and contemporary alternative to the traditional public street bench,” Quigley said.
To be considered for installation in De Pere, seats must be custom designed and made of any of a variety of materials, including wood, steel or stainless steel, concrete, glass, or other materials.
The seats should fit with downtown De Pere’s culture and history, according to Definitely De Pere’s guidelines.
“The ideal bench will be useful, beautiful and specific to downtown De Pere so that it can be installed throughout the streetscape,” Quigley said. “We envision the street benches to provide respite and relaxation opportunities, and to make architectural or sculptural statements in public spaces.”
Artists, designers and fabricators are invited to submit sketches and descriptions of their designs, to be reviewed by the Public Art Committee and city of De Pere staff.
Definitely De Pere will be working closely with the Department of Public Works, since the street furniture would be placed in public sidewalk right-of-ways.
Deadline for submissions is early April, with finalists to be selected by mid-April.
Definitely De Pere anticipates the seating to be installed and ready for sitting in by September.