SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Jessica Martin, executive director of Springfield on the Move, asked the Selectboard at its Jan. 27 meeting to turn excess funds left over from the tax sale purchase of the Oddfellows building on Main Street to study a town signage project.
The Wayfinding Project is a directional signage system, Town Manager Tom Yennerell told the board. It is a program to place gateway municipal signs where they would be most effective to help visitors locate parking, rivers, parks, schools, and municipal offices – key public locations. Yennerell said Springfield on the Move is working with the Main Street Committee and together they have discussed and researched the system over the past year and came to the conclusion that they would need to hire a consultant in order to keep the project moving forward. The balance of the Oddfellows’ purchase would help to pay for the study.
Martin said the Selectboard loaned $25,000 to SOM through the revolving loan fund to bid on the Oddfellows building and an additional $2,500 to have an engineering structural analysis done. After the bid was accepted, expenses were covered, and the purchase was made, there was a balance of approximately $17,000. Martin asked the board to convert that money into a grant to hire Landworks LLC – a Vermont-based firm out of Middlebury whose expertise is planning, landscape architecture, and graphic design – to help with the design and study of the project that must follow federal, state, and local ordinances. She told the board she did not yet know how much the signs would cost and said it depends on how many are needed. Montpelier did a similar project at a cost of $450,000.
Martin said, “We can dream big and then pare it down.”
Yennerell said Springfield presently has a very outdated and antiquated sign system pointing to its key areas and told the board this is a good economic development project. Board Members Walter Martone and Michael Martin echoed Yennerell’s sentiment and were supportive.
Martone added, “We have been talking about this for years. The grant money is out there, but you have to have the plan ready when you find it.” He added that the presentation by Landworks was very impressive and showed how to walk through getting the funding. Yennerell said he thought the price quote of $400,000 was a little steep and said the project might be done for about $100,000.
Board Member George McNaughton was concerned about turning $17,000 into a planning grant if the project could cost anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000 to complete. He said he thought the money could be used elsewhere on another building that needs repair or go into the community center instead of spent on a study.
Although Chair Kristi Morris shared McNaughton’s concerns, he said he supported the project and asked Jessica Martin if the firm would draft a proposal for the cost of the signs. Martin responded that Landworks would draft the proposal, help to find the funding, and follow up for the long-term in the event signs get outdated.
The Selectboard asked if the two groups had enumerated landmarks and Martin said the thought was to stay away from private businesses and place signs for the schools, Town Hall, public parking, and trailheads. She said the police and fire departments were already well identified so they would not be included. Only two signs in town identify parking and Martin said one fell down. She said people do not realize that the parking lot at People’s Bank is a public lot.
The board unanimously passed a motion to authorize the balance of the revolving loan fund in the amount of approximately $17,000 to be used for the design and study of the Wayfinding Project and to contract with Landworks LLC as consultants.