The city consultant hired to create a wayfinding system concluded a three-day visit last week and has entered the final stages of the project, which will lead to the installation of about 350 new signs throughout the city.
Merje, a Philadelphia-based company, toured the locations of each of the new signs during its trip to Sarasota, verified the message on each sign and checked for any conflicts with utilities.
The city plans to install the signs later this year, which will better identify where public parking is located, identify shopping and historic districts, locate specific cultural amenities and more.
The wayfinding plan also calls for informational kiosks, similar to those on St. Armands Circle and in shopping malls, which indicate where specific businesses are located.
Placement of the kiosks was somewhat of an issue with a Wayfinding Citizens Committee that was created to relay the thoughts and concerns of the business and residential community. The committee was made up of John Simon, Pineapple Square developer; Andrew Foley, Downtown Improvement District board member; and Denise Kowal, Burns Square Property Owners Association president.
The three-member panel believed the original placement of the kiosks in the middle of a city block would be hard to locate and suggested they be put on street corners, instead.
Simon said the consultant agreed to that suggestion.
But one of the committee’s concerns was not met. Committee members felt that a sign identifying the “Southgate Shopping District” benefited a private business, Westfield Southgate Mall.
But Dr. Clifford Smith, the city’s project manager, said that there are many more shops in the Southgate district than the mall, so that sign is staying.
By mid-February, Merje is expected to deliver a full map with all sign locations. City staff will double-check all placement and wording on the signs. When everything is correct, the city will then seek contractors to manufacture and install the signs.
Total cost of the project is $1.4 million, although only about $830,000 is currently funded. Smith said he hopes that by the time installation begins later this year, the city will have secured he remaining money to fully fund the project.
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A partial list of the locations to be identified in the wayfinding system:
• Bird Key Park
• Burns Court
• Cultural district
• Gulf beaches
• Judicial Center
• Jungle Gardens
• Lido Key
• Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
• Mote Marine Aquarium and Laboratory
• Ringling museums
• Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
• Sarasota Orchestra
• St. Armands Circle
• Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
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