For many years, until approximately two years ago, the city had encouraged donations to establish benches with commemorative plaques that would help upgrade the appearance of the beach walk. Frankly, with more encouragement from the city, all of the remaining original ugly wooden style benches could have been replaced.
Fast forward to the current implementation of the beach master plan and a current city directive to replace all of the existing benches but not to include the original plaques.
Donation of a bench and plaque implied a meaningful and emotional decision to communicate a special message in an understated manner and to establish a long-term reminder of how Delray Beach impacted the lives of the donors. This cannot be replaced by moving the plaques to a wall or on “sitting elements” in the area of the pavilion that also would be out of place, not decorative, and meaningless.
It is my understanding that some city officials felt the plaques lent a cemetery atmosphere. I can agree with the large plaques as located on the ground in front of trees along the beach walk, but not the bench plaques that are not a major visual attraction and not noticed until one is close to a bench. Frankly, there is no cemetery or graveyard suggestion in any sense.
I am writing as a plaque donor and resident of Delray Beach to reevaluate the decision to remove the bench plaques, which would violate the donors’ wishes to maintain selected legacies.
I also do not feel that a cross-section of city residents would agree that the plaques are out of place or demoralizing, but would recognize the intent.
I hope the city will keep an open mind to the value of the bench plaques, which would be eliminated if not maintained in place. At this point, Commissioner Mitch Katz has expressed his support in maintaining plaques as originally located on the beach walk benches.
I live in Delray Beach but do not have a legacy bench and plaque up on the beach walk. I never thought of the plaques as evoking thoughts of cemeteries ( and I liked the old wooden benches) On the contrary, whenever I see the plaques and read the names of those who were thoughtful enough to donate a bench, I imagine how much they loved looking out over the ocean or spending quiet time while resting on their walk, how much they loved Delray and placed an inviting bench on the beach for visitors across the globe; I think about how every time their family walks up to the beach, they love to remember how each one of them LOVED that spot. It evokes memories of when they were alive, sitting on the bench, enjoying the sun and watching the tide roll in. In the words of Paul McCartney "LET IT BE"