Mary DeLong and Nancy Gallagher
Mary DeLong, left, of Montara, and Nancy Gallagher, of Redwood City, sit on a bench that is part of San Mateo County's commemorative bench program. The pair was captured on a Friday visit to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. Dean Coppola

San Mateo County Parks is expanding a program that allows patrons to memorialize a friend or loved one while also infusing needed dollars into the department.

For more than 20 years, County Parks has accepted $5,000 donations toward commemorative benches that recognize individuals, groups or historic events related to the park or community at-large. Last year, 13 benches were dedicated throughout the system, including at Devil’s Slide Trail. The county has erected 124 such benches since the program began in 1994.

Now, due to growing demand for such commemoration opportunities, County Parks is adding a similar program for picnic tables. Doing so allows the department to meet requests from those who want to recognize a person or group while also meeting a need for new picnic tables in several county parks, including Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and Memorial County Park. There is a master list of more than 50 needed tables, according to San Mateo County Parks Development Consultant Cecily Harris.

“In 2014, County Parks added new properties such as Devil’s Slide Trail, Friendship Park and Moss Beach Park to the system,” Harris said in an email. “Additional properties, additional need and requests allow the program to grow.”

A $5,000 donation covers the purchase of a bench or picnic table, plaque, installation and 10 years of maintenance. These can be rededicated after a decade for an additional fee. County Parks will also consider the dedication of an existing bench or table depending on its location.

Donations can be used now or held until enough funds are identified to underwrite a project.

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