It's try, try again for city's 'wayfinding' sign proposal

News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, IN), 2014-08-05

Aug. 05 -- First City Council said yes.

Three weeks later it said no.

Now Mayor Tom Henry is hoping the third time really will be the charm for his efforts to install signs directing visitors and others to some of Fort Wayne's top attractions.

But there's a key difference this time around: Some of those attractions are willing to pay some of the $168,900 bill.

Council, which last Oct. 1 voted 6-3 in favor of what was then a $200,000 project, rejected the proposal later that month after John Crawford , R-at large, and John Shoaff , D-at large, changed their minds -- in part because of cost concerns.

"Council had a number of concerns, and we took them to heart, said Pam Holocher , deputy director of community development. City officials contacted counterparts in eight other communities to investigate how they handle "wayfinding" signs, and those conversations shaped the current proposal, Holocher said.

In response to some council members' suggestions, the proposal to be considered Tuesday states that 14 organizations have pledged a total of $22,100 to help underwrite the cost. Those contributions would come from the Memorial Coliseum ( $1,900 ), Parkview Field ( $1,400 ), Indiana Tech ( $1,400 ), SportONE Parkview Icehouse ( $1,100 ), Science Central ( $1,700 ), Grand Wayne Center ( $1,500 ), Children's Zoo ( $2,000 ), Ivy Tech ( $2,500 ), Spiece Fieldhouse ( $1,100 ), Jefferson Pointe ( $1,500 ), Glenbrook Square ( $1,600 ), IPFW ( $1,900 ), University of Saint Francis ( $1,400 ) and SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse ( $1,100 ).

According to the proposal, the city requested $1,000 from organizations to be identified by one sign and $100 for each additional sign.

The average per-sign price would be $3,700 , with Burkhart Sign Systems installing 57 signs.

In October, Visit Fort Wayne President and CEO Dan O'Connell urged council members to approve placement of the signs, saying they are "critical to helping visitors. It also conveys our city is welcoming and that we appreciate their business.

Every year visitors spend more than $500 million in Fort Wayne . They deserve a better sign system," he said at the time.

Originally, the entire project was to be paid for through the city's $70 million Legacy Fund , created through the sale of the city's former electric utility. But in light of council's earlier reservations, Holocher said, the city's Redevelopment Commission has pledged $40,000 for the project.

But City Councilman Tom Smith , R-1st, said use of Legacy funds could still spark a lively discussion at the council table Tuesday. Six of nine council members must approve the use of Legacy funds.

If council agrees, work could start this month, Holocher aid.


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