IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — The benches in Iowa City have been up for debate after a local religious organization called them “hostile architecture’ and anti-homeless.
In November, the Catholic Worker House poised the question that new benches placed in Iowa City’s Pedestrian Mall were anti-homeless. The new benches feature arm dividers which the city said was to optimize seating.
Afterward, some emails and letters began filtering into the city hall demanding the benches be replaced without armrests.
In January, the Catholic Worker House met with city manager and police about their concerns about the benches.
Before that meeting, the city council had already directed the city to look into the costs of potentially replacing the benches.
In a memo to the council, City Manager Geoff Fruin wrote that the costs to replace all of the benches would be nearly $150,000.
Additionally, it would cost $21,000 to replace 47% of the benches, $15,000 for 30% and $6,000 for 10% of them.
Fruin wrote that the benches can’t be returned to the manufacture and would need to be repurposed or sold.
The costs include labor required to make the changes.
The city council will discuss the benches on Tuesday during a special work session.