2014-12-05 / Front Page

Signs point to more signs

Idea is to promote Kennebunk’s ‘three distinct villages’ with better directions
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK – A proposal to add between 15 and 20 signs welcoming and directing residents and visitors has been moved to a second reading.

At last Tuesday’s board of selectmen meeting, Community Development Coordinator Caroline Segalla presented mock sign ideas and more than 20 possible locations.

“This was a really fun project, at least for me, and I know, for staff,” Segalla said. The objective for installing new signs around Kennebunk, Segalla said, is to “welcome all people, to present the town’s three distinct villages, to promote shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities in town, and to guide visitors to places of interest.”

In an age where the number of people using technological devices to navigate is increasing, Segalla told the board she thinks increased signage is still necessary. “Not everybody is using a GPS, so they need something to guide them through town.”

Examples of possible signs and locations include near Cummings’ Market in West Kennebunk for visitors getting off the turnpike; a welcome sign in the rotary median on Fletcher Street; signs on Fletcher and Storer streets; a sign on Route 1 driving north from Wells; another on Route 1 driving south; and yet another on the Mat Lanigan Bridge in Lower Village.

The wording on each sign would vary, but the basics would include directions to downtown, West Kennebunk, Lower Village and Kennebunk’s beaches.

Segalla proposed that locations such as town hall, the chamber of commerce and the police station have new signs, as well.

Segalla also suggested installing banners distinguishing such places as the historic district and the community gardens.

In addition, the board of selectmen and Segalla discussed including the Lafayette Elm emblem on the sign.

“In reviewing this with the Economic Development Committee, the West Kennebunk Committee and the Lower Village Committee, they felt strongly that there should be a Lafayette Elm on the sign,” Segalla told the board.

“From a marketing and branding perspective, this is the logo we should be using everywhere,” said Selectman Chris Cluff as he pointed to the slm emblem at the front of the room. “We want to be consistent across the board. Every sign should be consistent.”

Segalla told the board that, factoring in installation costs, individual signs could cost anywhere from $750 to $2,500.

The town budgeted “a little bit of money” in last year’s budget to pay for some of the signs, said Town Manager Barry Tibbetts.

Payment for the remaining signs will likely be proposed for consideration in the 2015-2016 operating budget. If the board of selectmen elects to approve the wayfinding signs at its second reading, the town will begin seeking bids for the project.

Selectmen Deborah Beal was the only board member to question the project. “I don’t want to be the Debbie Downer, but that’s a lot of signs. A lot of signs. I just think that’s overwhelming to have the shared magnitude of the signs that we already have … I think this is very overwhelming. I’d actually cut them at least in half.”

“There are so many people going to the electronic devices now,” Beal said. “When we travel we don’t rely on street signs as much as we used to or even maps – I can’t remember the last time I had a map or an atlas in my car.”

Segalla didn’t disagree. Rather, she restated why, despite the navigational capacities of devices, signs could still point people in directions they might not otherwise venture

“Yes, they might have that GPS, and yes that might take them straight to Lower Village via Fletcher Street, but do we want them to do that? No, we have an opportunity to make a change and encourage them maybe to go down Storer and make them explore that way.”

The board will make a final decision at their next meeting.

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