City Council approves new signs and logo

March 6, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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The City Council has moved to adopt new signs for Newcastle’s streets, parks and trails, as well as a new logo.

The new logo recently approved by the City Council. Contributed

The new logo recently approved by the City Council. Contributed

By a 4-3 vote Feb. 17, the council approved the recommended signage and imaging designed by NBBJ, an architectural and design firm, and to begin implementation as the budget allows. The signs would be chartreuse with white lettering. The logo features the letter “N” outlined by two leaves. During 2008, $47,000 from the construction budget was spent to develop the signs and construct two prototypes.

Mayor Ben Varon, Deputy Mayor Dan Hubbell, Councilwoman Jean Garber and Councilman Sonny Putter voted yes. Councilwoman Lisa Jensen, Councilwoman Carol Simpson and Councilman Steve Buri dissented.

Proponents on the council hailed the signs as unique and distinctive. They applauded the color scheme and said the signage would enhance the city’s ability to market itself. Opponents on the council questioned the lack of public input, the cost, the color and its poor grammar. The consultants recommended signage does not capitalize proper nouns. Grammatically, the first letter of a proper noun is always represented by a capital letter. The council later amended the recommendation to capitalize proper nouns.

The Parks Commission reviewed the consultants’ concepts at their meeting in September. Commissioners said they were pleased with the signs and use of graphics, and voted to send it to the City Council for further review. A prototype of a sign was installed last fall near the public dock at Lake Boren Park.

City Manager John Starbard said there is money already budgeted from the city’s construction budget for signs along the new section of Coal Creek Parkway and the city’s new bus shelters. The city is also running low on stationery, so rather than ordering the old design, Starbard recommended the city order the new one. Future mailings, which would need to be printed anyway, could use the new design.

“This look is contemporary and expresses the city today and where it’s going,” Starbard said.

“This allows us to have uniformity,” Varon said of the signage.

Garber said she found several positive attributes when researching the color chartreuse on the Internet.

“Chartreuse is held in high regard,” she said. “Chartreuse is the new black.”

Still other council members questioned the design and the need for new signs during the nation’s recession.

“I think a project of this magnitude, I have concerns about the process,” Jensen said. “The facts are we didn’t let people know about this. We should be more transparent in the process.”

Simpson said chartreuse is a fad.

“It’s the color du jour,” she said. “It will soon be dated.”

Simpson said the proposed logo lacked pizzazz and doesn’t reflect the history of the city. She added she’d like to see more input from the public, possibly balloting of Newcastle residents.

“We need to involve the citizens,” she said. “What we’re getting is one opinion from a consultant and six opinions” from Parks Commissioners.

Putter said the city’s 15-year-old logo has served the city well, but needs to be updated.

“This logo is sophisticated, unique, forward-thinking and contemporary, all of which are positive adjectives,” he said.

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