Letter to the editor
February 4, 2010
City should return its sign code to original 2005 standards
The Newcastle sign standards pushed through by former City Manager John Starbard should be replaced by our original standards, adopted in 2005 after an extensive public process. The new signs lose by all measures: safety, information, readability, cost and appearance. Treat them like convicted felons: three strikes and they’re out.
Strike one: Park signs. The January Newcastle News said the city had removed six signs from near Windtree Park and Highlands Park because of size, “traffic visibility problems” and multiple complaints. Residents said the signs didn’t blend in, looked out of place, and were dangerous, with thin metal edges and corners “placed right at toddler eye level.”
Newcastle’s original standard is safer and more informative. It uses Bellevue’s design, with signplates held in an attractive rounded frame — no sharp edges. Moreover, small icons indicate park facilities: You can see at a glance if a park has restrooms.
Strike two: Street signs. The street signs on south Coal Creek Parkway use the new color — somewhere between chartreuse and bile green. The light background makes white lettering less readable: An out-of-town friend wondered why the “faded” signs hadn’t been replaced. These signs may not meet federal and state DOT visibility standards. Let’s stick with forest green.
Strike three: Trail signs. The original standard allows signplates on all four sides of a signpost; walkers from any direction can see their options (destinations and distances) displayed on the side facing them. The new standard uses at most two opposing faces of the signpost. The old signplates cost less than $5; the new ones cost about $200.
The hurried adoption of new sign standards erased years of work by citizens who voted for the original city logo (designed by a local artist), helped install trail signs and worked on park sign standards in 2004-2005. It says to them “your work, your opinions and your votes don’t count.”
Our new council has halted the replacement of existing signage. Perhaps they can restore the original signplates and historic logo and ask NBBJ, the consultant on the inferior new standards, for a refund.