Wayfinding sign bids expected by end of week

Published 10:11 am Monday, July 18, 2016

The deadline for bids from entities wanting to provide signs for Washington’s wayfinding program is 4 p.m. Friday.

“We won’t open them then. We’ll probably wait to the following Monday (June 25) to open them,” said John Rodman, the city’s community and cultural resources director. Rodman said he plans to inform the City Council, which meets June 25, about the bids. He doesn’t expect the council to make a decision concerning the bids at that meeting.

City Manager Bobby Roberson said the council would review the bids in detail later. “He’s (Rodman) going to give them (council members) and update about where we are, how much they cost. Some of them have different opinions about where the signs are going to be located. We’re going to give them a heads-up and say, ‘Tell us where you want it.’ That’s where we’re going to put it,” Roberson said.

The city has been pursuing its wayfinding program for several years. Currently, the city has about $150,000 available for the signs. The project will be done in phases, Roberson said.

The City Council, during its May 23 meeting, authorized city staff and the Washington Harbor District Alliance to search for an entity to provide the signs, part of the city’s effort to make it easier for visitors and others to find specific places in the city, especially in the waterfront and downtown areas. Late last year, the council decided to wait until this year to make a decision regarding funding of the city’s wayfinding project. During its Nov. 9, 2015, 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, as presented then, would have been split into three phases because of its cost, according to a presentation made to the council last year.

In November 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 had not yet been released.

Last year, 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.

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 Rodman.

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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