An effort to standardize signs for visitor destinations in the region got an icy reception from the Spokane Valley City Council Tuesday evening.
Mark Richard, president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, led the presentation on the Regional Wayfinding Concept Plan together with a representative from a Pennsylvania-based consulting company that developed the plan.
The plan, which local municipalities began working on in 2011, when Richard was a county commissioner, outlines a uniform design for signs to be used across the county based on the idea that consistency will make it easier for visitors to find their way.
Spokane Valley council members said they were surprised by the scope of the project.
“Wow – holy smokes,” said council member Arne Woodard. “This has gotten way deeper and way more blown up than what we talked about three years ago. I don’t think I am ready for this.”
The plan outlines 35 sign-worthy destinations in Spokane Valley and makes recommendations for which signs should go where.
It was paid for by a $242,027 Federal Surface Transportation Program grant, but holds no funding for sign production and maintenance. The individual municipalities are in charge of finding that money.
“It seems like this has turned into a huge program,” Mayor Dean Grafos said, “and what about the cost?”
Woodard added that this is the first update on the wayfinding plan the council has seen in three years.
“I thought we were just talking about a couple of freeway exit signs,” Woodard said.
Richard said perhaps his group could have been better at communicating about the plan, and that it had grown in scope partly because he’d come to appreciate the value of a wayfinding system.
“There’s nothing that says you have to do this,” Richard said.
Council member Ed Pace said he likes the familiar blue-and-green Spokane Valley logo.
Woodard added that the current signage system seems to work fine.
Council member Chuck Hafner was cautiously supportive, however.
“It’s a matter of economic development,” Hafner said. “That’s the main reason we should consider it.”
The council will spend more time reading the more than 100-page study before making any decisions on the wayfinding plan.
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