Berryville doesn’t present many challenges for locals attempting to find their way around town, but pulling passers-by off of Route 7 and directing them throughout the town has become a priority for one committee in the town government. At Tuesday’s Town Council Meeting, Allen Kitselman, Ward Two Council Member and Chairman of the Community Improvements Committee, rolled out the preliminary designs for wayfinding signage that is being proposed for the town.
The extensive package prepared by Frazier and Associates was submitted to Berryville Main Street and was sponsored by The Virginia Main Street Program. It included detailed analysis of the signage needs in the town and proposed designs.
The wayfinding sign system would consists of a series of signs that welcome and orient visitors to key destinations in the community. Typical elements can include gateway signs at the entrances to towns, trailblazers that have lists of attractions with directional arrows, parking signs, pedestrian signs, and banners.
The initial phase of the project was performed without cost to the town. Frazier and Associates began working with a group of citizens representing the public and the private sector who were assembled and asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding the goals for the signage project as well as desires about the aesthetic approach. This group consisted of approximately 16 individuals from Berryville and Clarke County. Based on those results Frazier and Associates developed four different designs for the signage system which were then presented to the group.
The designs represent a variety of approaches and most draw inspiration from elements found in the town. A fourth design which was a response to a request from the committee to include a fifties retro design, represented a unique and drastic departure from the three other designs submitted.
While the committees decision is non-binding, they did submit votes on which they liked best and the majority selected Option 1 (see below). The groups decision was presented by Mr Kitselman who began his presentation by voicing his disagreement with the group. ” I lobbied for the inclusion of the 1950’s design but you can see the one that came out on top, as far as the voting goes, was the sort of blue, very traditional design.”
He added, “Historians see the 50’s as a high-water mark for Berryville. I think this is an opportunity to not do something that Leesburg, Winchester, Warrenton and everybody else does and have something that people would drive by and go ‘Huh’.”
Since the town will ultimately be responsible for paying the bill for the sign package, and since the recommendations of the committee are non-binding Kitselman asked the council to keep an open mind about the project. “I don’t want to circumvent the voices of the community but I come down firmly on the retro 50′ looking sign package (Option 4).”
Town Planner Christy Dunkle pointed out that the designs submitted are not the only options available and that a hybrid design could be developed. However if one of the initially presented designs is not selected the work associated with a new design will be an added cost.
The final cost of the project will be determined by the number of signs needed. Cost estimates were provided with the design package with ranges for each type of sign. They include:
- Primary Monument Gateway Signs – Estimated cost between $7800 – $9200 each
- Secondary Gateway Signs – Estimated cost between $3700 – $4500 each
- Trailblazer “A” Signs – Estimated cost between $2500 – $2800 each
- Trailblazer “B” Signs – Estimated cost between $2300 – $2500 each
- Parking Signs – Estimated cost between $900 – $1200 each
Next steps will involve developing a budget and obtaining funding for the project. If the project proceeds a wayfinding task group will need to be formed to guide the project from design through implementation. They will also need to decide which attractions will be included in the signage package.