New signage less costly than gateway option

Once upon a time, the Polk County Chamber of Commerce had a grand plan for gateway signage coming into the county.

The fairy tale ended for the time being last week as Executive Director Tamaka Hudson began showing off a new plan for replacing outdated signage at the county line along major routes, and for much less than it would have cost for the bigger plans previously put before city and county officials.

“This has been a labor of love that has delivered no baby,” Hudson said.

Instead of the green signs that currently greet drivers coming into the county at the line which dawn the tagline “Where Folks are Friendly,” a smaller sign with a simple “Welcome” in beige will be its replacement.

Hudson said that the original plan for larger gateway signs at seven different locations into the county ran into two main problems.

First, the Department of Transportation wouldn’t grant the needed space of a 75-square foot tract needed to place the signs. Then when property owners were sought out for potential donations, Hudson said the Chamber got no headway.

“I think everyone wants to see something happen on this, and this is something that we hope will be acceptable to everyone,” she said.

Larger signs than those presented in the new plan were sought, but Hudson said DOT rules required the signs to be the size they are, and stand on breakaway poles.

If the county and cities all give their blessing, the signage could be made and replaced by one contractor – with three more added on for good measure – with money already set aside for the project from the tourism committee from several years prior and much more leftover when the work is done, Hudson said.

“This plan will get us moving instead of standing still, and will cost us nominally compared to the cost of one of the original gateway signs alone,” she said.