Speakers ask council to release funds for wayfinding program

Published 2:33 pm Thursday, November 26, 2015

Two Washington residents criticized the Washington City Council for not providing the funding needed to begin implementing the city’s wayfinding program.

Rebecca Clark, a downtown business owner, and Scott Campbell, a downtown resident and real-estate agent, told the council they were upset that the project has “dragged on” for three years and that funds for the wayfinding signs have not been released.

Earlier this month, the council decided to wait until early next year to make a decision regarding funding of the city’s wayfinding project.

That decision likely would come as the council begins developing the city’s 2016-2017 fiscal year budget, which would begin July 1, 2016. During its Nov. 9 meeting, the council balked at allocating $101,606 for 24 signs that are part of a recommended overall sign project consisting of 84 signs — including gateway, directional and parking signs. The project would be split into three phases because of its cost, according to a presentation made to the council Nov. 9.

Currently, the city has $130,000 available for the signs.

Councilman Doug Mercer questioned spending nearly $2,000 each for parking signs he said could be purchased for much less — under $50 each — from a source other than the one included in the wayfinding plan developed by Deep Fried Creative, a Washington-based company.

“It (the project) was begun at the behest of the then-City Council and mayor. Public meetings, public input were garnered to present a plan to the council, which has been done,” Clark said. “Everything the council has asked the planning department to do in regards to this program has been done. It has dragged on for three long years, and we still have no wayfinding signs. When the planning department presented the cost for this program, using funds already approved by this council, the council rejected the recommendation.”

Clark, speaking to Mercer, said “as we know, certain safety and aesthetic standards must be met, and that you cannot buy a sign over the Internet or from a locals sign painter that would meet those qualifications.”

Clark asked the council to “stop putting up roadblocks and, instead, approve the signage that was presented by the wayfinding committee.”

Clark asked the council to release the funding so she will not have to return to the council in three years and make the same request.

Campbell said the wayfinding signs would help visitors and new residents who often have questions concerning where to find parking, goods, sites and services. “That last thing I want to see is a confused visitor concentrate on these simple aspects of navigating around Washington. We are all better served if those barriers are removed, and they can enjoy and relax in our great, historic and natural environment,” he said.

The wayfinding program is a continuation of the successful investments already made in downtown Washington— Festival Park, new public restrooms on the east and west ends of Stewart Parkway, the new pier and swings along the waterfront, Campbell noted.

The council took no action related to the requests of Clark and Campbell.

The wayfinding strategies designed for Washington would improve traffic circulation (vehicles and pedestrians) in the city and direct visitor dollars to where they would have the most economic impact, according to John Rodman, the city’s community and cultural resources director.

In an effort to reduce costs, new signs would be erected on existing utility poles, especially the decorative light poles in the historic and waterfront districts, Rodman said.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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