Attraction signs a tough sell at Statesville City Council

08/15/2014 12:00 AM

08/12/2014 3:34 PM

A proposal by the city’s planning department to spend close to $150,000 on new “wayfinding” signs in Statesville ran into a brick wall of sorts during the City Council’s July 21 meeting.

Council members questioned the proposed sign locations, color and design. Ultimately, they agreed to spend only $13,850 to retain a sign design specialist, and even that was a 6-2 decision.

The planning staff’s proposal was for the design and placement of 11 signs downtown and 10 on the city’s perimeter, along with four parking identification signs, at a total cost of $148,544.

The funding request included specific sign locations, and that’s where it started to run into trouble.

“I see no signs east of Interstate 77 on this list,” said council member Michael Schlesinger. “Isn’t that still part of Statesville?”

Assistant Planning Director Sherry Ashley explained that the N.C. Department of Transportation places some limits on how far the signs can be from the downtownof the city, but she promised to take another look.

Schlesinger also suggested that the signs focus on permanent attractions, such as the Fort Dobbs Historic Site.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Johnson took issue with the sign colors proposed by Bizzell Design.

“They’re stuck on pastels,” Johnson said. “They all look faded to me.”

Earlier this year, the city had placed a prototype sample of the sign on East Broad Street near Hop’s Place, but even that was met with some criticism when the council noted that trees were blocking the sign from being clearly seen.

Wayfinding signs to help direct motorists and pedestrians to community attractions are being erected by towns throughout the Lake Norman/South Iredell County area, including Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville.

When Mayor Costi Kutteh asked whether there was any hard data that quantified their effect, however, Ashley said, “Not that I am aware of.”

After a brief discussion, the council decided hold off on the major expenditure and simply retain Bizzell Design of Statesville to manage further development of the project. Council members C.O. “Jap” Johnson and Jarrod Phifer voted against the measure.

Johnson said he recalled from previous discussions that the cost of the entire project was to be around $80,000 and it had now grown too high.

Under the new contract approved by the council, Bizzell will have 60 days to fine-tune the colors and projected locations of the wayfinding signs, determine what destinations and attractions should be included, and then select up to five qualified companies to submit sealed bids to produce and install the signs.

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