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Cape leaders begin brainstorming for sign project

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

City and community leaders kicked off a three-day period of brainstorming and design for a citywide wayfinding project Tuesday night.

About 25 people attended the first of two public meetings to give planners input on a sign system to direct visitors, tourists and students through the city.

"Wayfinding is a complicated system that's more than just signs," said Jonathan Mugmon, the wayfinding studio leader for the consulting firm AECOM.

The city, Old Town Cape, the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau are working together to implement at $126,000 Preserve America Grant. Part of the grant, $40,000, will fund a study on creating a directional sign system that planners hope will spur more economic development.

"As an economic tool, it's used to capture an audience," Mugmon said. Different districts will be designated to help businesses identify with an area of the city.

The city contracted with the Florida consulting firm Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin Inc. for the study. In December, the company incorporated into AECOM.

The National Park Service awarded the two-year grant to the city in October 2008. The grant includes $15,000 for the development of a downtown branding strategy, which will fit into the citywide brand. The city is pursuing other grants to fund the signs.

The sign plan will include a tiered strategy with the city's "super" destinations identified near the interstate. Those landmarks include Southeast Missouri State University and the River Campus. Once off the interstate, visitors will be directed to other "top" destinations like the Cape Girardeau Public Library, the Conservation Nature Center and the Osage Community Centre. Pedestrian signs will direct people to landmarks within walking distance.

The quantity of destinations included and characteristics of the signs will be carefully considered, Mugmon said.

"We need to show them something that's easy to digest and understand," he said.

Mugmon has been to Cape Girardeau twice to gather data. He and a design team arrived Monday. They met Tuesday with officials from Southeast, Saint Francis Medical Center and Southeast Missouri Hospital. At the evening meeting, attendees marked up maps and answered questions about which parts of the city should be highlighted.

The design team will work to create renderings of signs, which will be presented at the group's next meeting. The plan will include ideas for landscaping, hardscaping and public art. Four welcome areas will also be designed.

Mugmon said the signs will be designed to fit into the character of the city and will be easy to maintain or replace if there is a name change.

The second meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in the First Presbyterian Church's fellowship hall.

abusch@semissourian.com

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I thought the city didn't want signs strewn all over town? Will these new signs for the City pass the city ordinance codes? So the City wants to advertise and direct people around, but it doesn't want it's own citizens to have the same ability? Funny how the world of politics works.

-- Posted by gomer on Tue, Jan 12, 2010, at 10:03 PM

Speaking of politics, it will be interesting to see which landmarks are included in the signage, and which ones fall "out of favor" with those making the decisions.

-- Posted by Rocket_Surgeon on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 4:32 AM

If they weren't planning for the future and taking economic advantage of our history, drawing consumers off the interstate to patronize our businesses supporting the livelihoods of our citizens many of you would be wondering why not. Kudos to those who sought out and took advantage of this program. Kudos to their foresight and courage to govern and develop programs to promote the health and growth of our region. Although I appreciate everyone's right to voice their opinion, I'm glad the peanut gallery isn't in charge of developing our local economy.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 5:15 AM

This headline is wrong. The word "brainstorming" was mistakenly used-- it should have been "brainwashing"...

-- Posted by Seelen.Fresser on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 7:10 AM

Whoever picked the headline for this story forgot one thing about our city leaders. You need a brain before you can bbainstorm.

-- Posted by newman90 on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 7:27 AM

WOW!

The presentation from the AECOM team last night was outstanding! It is plain to see that our Cape Team selected "the best of the best" to help us make "wayfinding" a major contributor to our Great City on the Cape! The discussion and idea sharing was outstanding. We were able to give our positive influence to the future development of Cape. I encourage all to attend the Thursday evening meeting to become a "part of the solution".

Doug Austin

-- Posted by Doug Austin on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 8:19 AM

blogbudsman - where were you on the sign ordinances passed a few years back? You approve of the City posting signs everywhere touting itself, but you don't approve of actual businesses --- THAT DEVELOP THE LOCAL ECONOMY -- doing the same? Remember the guy that had the banner advertising his mattress store? Wasn't he helping develop the local economy by touting his business, and his sign by no means was harmful nor a distraction to drivers. Where were you touting the fact that he was helping to develop the local economy?

You sound awfully hypocritical. I would love to support this signage issue with the city, but only once they have changed the ordinances to allow every day businesses to do the same.

-- Posted by gomer on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 8:40 AM

Can I put a yard sale sign next to these wayfinding signs?

-- Posted by gomer on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 8:42 AM

I agree with you blogbuds, there is a lot more to this project than the peanut gallery understands.

Of course, if they desire to show their ignorance, that is their prerogative.

-- Posted by Hawker on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:09 AM

lol - gomer, good point

To compromise, maybe the signs can have a board attached beneath them, like in other cities, so we can post yard sale, concert, and other flyers.

-- Posted by qzerp on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:11 AM

Gubment spending at it's finest!

-- Posted by Old John on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:14 AM

How about all the signs saying "Welcome to Cape Girardeau, City of banks and Dr's "

-- Posted by mohacker on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:52 AM

These "leaders" think this is free money. It is tax money you eggheads. A grant from the govt is tax money. Get it through your thick heads. These "leaders" are the conservatives in this city who decry all the spending by the govt, but somehow see this as being OK. What loons.

-- Posted by howdydoody on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:56 AM

More signs littering our landscape. This is an eyesore and is money being wasted. If people don't know where they need to go, they've got no business in this town. You want to go to the hospital? Take the main exit off I-55. You want to go to the mall? Take the main exit off I-55. You want to go to the state college? Take the main exit off I-55 and go toward that dome. You want to go to see the muddy MS? Take the main exit off I-55 and drive east for about 5 to 10 minutes. You want to go visit Mr and Mrs Jones? Call them and get directions. All the signs in teh world are not going to draw people in this town. The town council needs to accept that Cape is a small college town. One more thought, I do not want to see any signs directing traffic to the Rush Limbaugh home.

-- Posted by Beaker on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:56 AM

You sound awfully hypocritical. I would love to support this signage issue with the city, but only once they have changed the ordinances to allow every day businesses to do the same.

-- Posted by gomer on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 8:40 AM

Actually I try not to be hypocritical and am hopefully successful most of the time. Signage is an issue isn't it, for all the reasons you present. For this particular project that we are commenting on today, it is the reason that the City get good advise and counsel; DOT requirements, continuity concerns, local laws and regulations - exactly what you are saying.

Now concerning the issue you've raised, that is somewhat a horse of a different color. Me personally, I might prefer the banned sign, say over these ultra bright flashing signs that are more of a distraction than an attraction. And I'm sure there are others, possibly you, with other thoughts altogether. I would think there is a continuing process for dealing with those kind of issues. We have City Council members running for re-election. A new mayor coming. A Chamber of Commerce.

I understand your concern and right to express it. I just don't see how one process done right should be obstructed because of another that should still be in play - especially as technology, economics and players continue to change.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 10:36 AM

blogbudsman - maybe the City wouldn't have the need to use taxpayers money for signage if they would allow the businesses, using their own private monies, to do so themselves. Which is better - the City using taxpayer money or the businesses using their own money?

"I just don't see how one process done right should be obstructed because of another that should still be in play"

Because if the initial issue were to be resolved in a way that makes sense for businesses and organizations in this area, then the second issue may not have had to come into play. And the second issue uses taxpayer money, while the first issue uses private money.

-- Posted by gomer on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 10:55 AM

Getting a bunch of maps and talking with people and institutions, businesses, etc. to develop an integrated signage plan... GOOD

Making it easier for people to find things... GOOD

Getting art people to make it pretty as well as easy to digest... GOOD

Making sure the signs are within existing regulations... GOOD

But still.. $40,000?????? ... CRAZY!

How about we get 8 or 10 marketing students from SEMO to hold meetings and talk with people.

Get a competition going for say.. $2000 prize and unleash the Art Department at SEMO to design signs.

Get the Director of Public Works (who should know everything about sign regulations) to lay out some simple guidelines and proof things.

Have Old Town Cape, SEMO, etc. pool three or four people to keep tabs and monitor progress, set schedules, etc.

I think the total budget would be way less than $40,000 and reflect the City (because everyone involved would be living here and be invested in it's success). The rest of that money could be used for the signs themselves and other productive endeavours allowed by the grant.

The idea is good... The execution is so lacking in fiscal responsibility as to be laughable.

-- Posted by scottm52 on Thu, Jan 14, 2010, at 6:14 AM

These "leaders" think this is free money. It is tax money you eggheads. A grant from the govt is tax money. Get it through your thick heads. These "leaders" are the conservatives in this city who decry all the spending by the govt, but somehow see this as being OK. What loons.

-- Posted by howdydoody on Wed, Jan 13, 2010, at 9:56 AM

That hit the nail right on the head! The right-wingers around here love to cry about the wasteful spending of the Obama admin. but will readily snatch any "grant" money that comes anywhere close to them. Next, they'll want to support another tax payer funded bicycle race! Hypocrisy at its finest!

-- Posted by riregrist on Thu, Jan 14, 2010, at 1:36 PM


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