Under the category of try, try again, Bloomington's downtown signage committee has a hit with the latest options for wayfinding signs.
In September, an early proposal with a red swoosh and ambiguous "dream big" theme met with overwhelming dislike by the public and aldermen alike. The newest proposals, online at cityblm.org and formally unveiled Nov. 1, offer three variations of a simple theme: here's where to go, what to see and how to get around downtown.
Even better than the new designs is the price: nothing. At least, the design firm declined to accept the extra $10,000 the council was willing to pay for revamped proposals. The initial payment was $62,000. The $10,000 now will reside in the $250,000 signage account, where it will be used to help fabricate and install the signs.
Large boards showing all three looks will be presented during a public open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the McLean County Museum of History. The boards also will be displayed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 2 in the lobby of the Monroe Center/Fox & Hounds Salon and Day Spa building, 200 W. Monroe St.
The new designs are "more reflective of the traditional historic heritage of the city's core," according to a city statement. Residents are encouraged to share their thoughts with an online vote at http://www.cityblm.org/government/boards-commissions/downtown-signage-committee/2017-downtown-bloomington-wayfinding or by contacting their aldermen or city hall.
As reported last week, two of the new designs feature a turn-of-the-century motif with signs suspended from Victorian-style wrought iron posts and stone bases. The third design, an Art Deco look, is a modification of the original design. Each design would be used for directional signage, informational kiosks and an archway for the north end of downtown.
Starting in the late 1960s and early '70s, a number of retail stores moved from downtown Bloomington to the then-new Veterans Parkway strip and shopping malls. Downtown was less of a draw, although white- and pink-collar businesses continued strong. City leaders in the late '90s and early '00s envisioned a new downtown, one anchored by entertainment at both ends, with updated retail offerings and a more standard design.
City leaders continue to work on that vision, or a semblance of it. Regardless of what downtown becomes, any visitor can tell you that updated signs would go a long way in drawing out-of-town visitors to the museums, shops and events the area offers.
Effective signage draws people to a specific destination, promotes events and provides a visual "stamp." It is money well spent when the project is done right.
It took a second try to get the right tone for the proposed signs and we're confident the final decision will be the right one.