A years-long plan to bring new wayfinding signs to Riverside gateways and a couple other key locations looks like it may finally come to fruition in 2019 after village trustees looked favorably on a scaled back proposal earlier this month.
In addition, trustees appeared to agree that instead of spreading out installation of the signs over a three-year period, the village ought to consolidate the $48,000 estimated expense in 2019.
That amount of money would pay for about 10 signs – five gateway signs at prominent entrances to the village and five directional signs pointing the way to the downtown business district, the Metra station, Brookfield Zoo and government buildings.
“We’re making a statement with these signs,” said Trustee Elizabeth Peters, who was chairwoman of the Riverside Economic Development Commission when that group started working on a marketing plan that included wayfinding signage in 2015.
“There’s something about seeing a sign, and EDC talked a lot about this, that says, ‘OK, I’m on the right track,” she said. “That comfort level comes through, and we’ve all experienced it when we’ve driven into another town and we don’t where we are and we see the signs that pop up in the downtown area. It’s a welcoming thing, too.
“It’s a ‘we want you here’ type of statement.”
Gateway signs are proposed for the intersections of First Avenue and Forest Avenue, Harlem Avenue and East Burlington Street, Harlem Avenue and Longcommon Road, 31st Street and First Avenue and Barrypoint and Fairbank roads.
Directional signs, pointing motorists to the central business district and other downtown sites are proposed for southbound Golf Road at Ridgewood, eastbound Ridgewood Road at First Avenue, southbound Desplaines Avenue at 31st Street, southbound Kimbark Road at Forest Avenue, and northbound and southbound Longcommon Road at Evelyn/Kent.
One goal of the wayfinding signage program is to try to capture the attention of zoo visitors, particularly the 3,000 to 4,500 daily weekend visitors in the summer who use the South Gate entrance at Golf and Ridgewood roads.
Another $20,000 proposed to be earmarked in 2021 for parking lot signs in downtown Riverside will be put on hold.
“I hope we can consider [that phase] someday,” Peters said. “That means these signs are going to be successful. The success of [this phase] will necessitate [the parking sign phase].”
While the reduced scope of the signage program will fall within the amount originally budgeted by the board, Community Development Director Sonya Abt said that the Riverside Chamber of Commerce has expressed a willingness to put some funds toward the purchase of the signs, since their purpose in large part is business-driven.
“They might be willing to add some money to it,” Abt said, “but I don’t know what their caveats would be.”
Abt said that she would reach out to the village’s marketing consultant, Point B Communications, to get final drawings for the signs and to begin working on getting permission from the Illinois Department of Transportation for the gateway signs on Harlem Avenue and First Avenue.
Installation of the signs, if all goes according to plan, would take place in summer 2019 at the earliest.