The Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department is installing solar-powered smart benches in various parks and along greenways.
Last year, the Parks Department purchased five solar benches for about $25,000 from New York-based company EnGoPlanet, Parks Community Relations Manager Amy Schroeder said.
The benches, powered by sunlight, allow people to charge electronics using either wireless charging pads or USB ports attached to the benches.
In February, the department installed one at the entrance to The Linc wellness center. It also installed one at the south entrance of Community Park last week.
The remaining three benches will be installed near the playground at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park, near the main entrance at McKay Park — near the bathrooms overlooking the lake — and by the greenway arch at the East McCarty and Marshall streets greenway access.
Schroeder said she thinks the community could benefit from a solar-powered smart bench.
"The amenity it provides with providing a charging station for cellphones was kind of the unique draw," she said. "A lot of times in our parks, we don't have the infrastructure (because) we don't want big things impeding the feel of nature and of parks. By doing solar panels, you don't have to worry about the infrastructure that's involved with the usual charging with electricity."
Schroeder hopes the solar benches will be installed at Ellis-Porter Riverside and McKay parks within the next month.
Installation of the solar bench at the East McCarty and Marshall streets greenway access depends on how quickly a contractor finishes work after the demolition of nearby 602 and 606 E. McCarty St.
The Parks Department is also researching solar-powered technology for different uses in the parks, like a parking lot and security lighting.