Council votes chartreuse signs out

May 7, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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City to revert to old designs, colors, logo

Through five separate motions made by Councilman Bill Erxleben at the April 6 City Council meeting, the council voted to put an end to the city’s branding campaign that began almost three years ago and cost more than $191,000.

At the April 20 regular meeting, the council also voted to return to the city’s original logo, designed by resident Jane Kozlovsky in 1994. The vote also involved reverting to old business card, stationery and letterhead designs.

As a policy, all new street and park signs installed will now be in accordance with old signage standards, making new street signs dark green and new park signs maroon.

The new way-finding signs for the transit center that were stored in City Hall were put to surplus. Also, signs in phases two and three of the transit center project were replaced with signs of the same design as those in the first phase in the project. Through this, all signs that were not dark green or did not have borders were replaced.

Furthermore, the council directed city staff members to remove the entrance sign on Coal Creek Parkway at the south entrance to the city. The sign was then removed within two days of the April 6 meeting.

The branding project originated in December 2007, when the city entered into two contracts with the architecture and design firm NBBJ to develop strategies for city branding and to encourage way-finding in the city.

The branding project initially called for changes to the city’s logo, stationery system, template formats for printed notices and brochures, and for an example of a new website design.

The way-finding project called for changes to transit signs, pedestrian signs, city park identification signs, informational signs, historical signs and capital improvement informational signage.

The development of a branding strategy was estimated to cost $29,000, and the development of a way-finding strategy was estimated to cost $58,000.

From there, the scope of the projects expanded, and the city entered into additional contracts that encompassed things such as signs for the Transit Center, designs for the Transit Center bus shelters and vendor coordination with NBBJ for sign installation.

The motion to have new signs be in accordance with old sign standards passed 6-1 with Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting, and the motion to replace the 14 signs in phases two and three of the transit center project passed unanimously.

Phase one of the Coal Creek Parkway project stretched from the Coal Creek Parkway and Newcastle Way intersection to Southeast 89th Place. Phase two stretched from Southeast 89th Place to Southeast 91st Street, and phase three stretched from Southeast May Valley Road to Southeast 95th Way.

Replacing the 14 signs cost the city more than $8,000.

In an interview after the meeting, Putter said he voted in favor of replacing the signs in phases two and three of the project because members of the City Council had decided to throw away the city’s investment in signage, therefore making resisting the reverting to the old signs futile.

The motion to replace the entry sign at the south end of the city passed 6-1 with Putter dissenting.

“It really is a tacky-looking sign,” Erxleben said at the meeting. “The first time I saw it, I thought it was made out of plywood and was temporary.”

Crispo also said the sign was so close to the road that large or wide vehicles could potentially hit it.

In addition, the vote to surplus the new transit center way-finding signs passed unanimously.

“These signs are a bad joke,” Erxleben said at the meeting.

Putter spoke against the transit center signs as well, and he said they were too large and out of scale.

Finally, the vote to return to the original logo, business card designs, stationery designs and letterhead designs passed 6-1 with Putter dissenting. The city will use the remainder of its business cards, stationery and letterheads before ordering ones consistent with the original style.

Director of Finance Christine Olson said the change would save the city money, as the original business cards, stationery and letterheads are two to three times cheaper than the new ones were.

What to know
What the city spent  as of April 6:
  • Parks signs: $79,861
  • Historical signs: $14,767
  • Coal Creek Parkway signs: $21,344
  • Transit center signs: $44,819
  • Signage with downtown improvements: $3,248
  • Professional services: $27,217
  • Total: $191,256
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3 Responses to “Council votes chartreuse signs out”

  1. H.W. Petersen on May 7th, 2010 6:42 pm

    To the city council:

    Thank you for voting against the light green street signs. In some light conditions, and sometimes when wet, the signs were difficult to read because there wasn’t enough contrast between the background and the street name. I hope they are all replaced soon.

  2. Rebecca Turner on May 17th, 2010 7:10 pm

    I am so glad they decided to replace the chartreuse signs! The lack of adequate contrast between the white lettering and the light green background made them very difficult, if not impossible, for some residents with vision issues (such as cataracts) to read. Signage should be, above all, highly readable, since the signs are there to help people find their way around town. Good decision!

  3. Newcastle Resident on June 4th, 2010 11:06 am

    Thank you Council for stopping our rebranding effort–a complete disaster in design (color contrast), logo-“N”–dah!!–that was hard!!, safety (sheet metal with square edges on park signs), lack of research in our signage codes (10 foot tall directional signs proposed for downtown), outrageous design cost from NBBJ–a large architectural/ design firm in Seattle. I propose seeking retribution from NBBJ for a blatant lack of good design practices. For that fee–there should have been no errors made–that is why they charge the big bucks for professionalism. We need to seek some of that design fee back from them. This is wrong!!!!

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