Sarasota city commissioners have directed staff to slash 40% from a $1.26 million plan to add hundreds of new signs around the city.
That’s still the goal, said Public Works Project Manager Bill Nichols, but some of the cuts will come from competitive bidding. And state regulations could add between $80,000 and $120,000.
“In the current economic climate, businesses are hungry, and they’re all looking for work,” Nichols said in a phone interview. “That helps our situation.”
Also, the cost forecasts are dated and will likely fall in future analyses, Nichols said.
The City Commission met for a special workshop Oct. 9, to hear an update on the wayfinding plan and give staff further direction. Commissioners Terry Turner and Shannon Snyder argued for ways to reduce costs, including deleting some of the larger signage.
Commissioners had asked staff to look at sign features that were more general, to increase the number options for construction materials. That included asking the designer to change the proposed look, which Nichols did not approve based on talks with the Florida Department of Transportation. The state agency tries to coordinate uniform application across municipalities while evaluating wayfinding projects, he explained.
“We want a good quality sign,” Nichols said about the signs that would enhance local architecture along with direct vehicle and foot traffic.
Commissioner Terry Turner criticized large vertical “gateway signs,” which serve to welcome vehicles to the city of Sarasota. When city staff returns with an update in 90 days, the current proposed number of seven gateway signs might fall. Eighteen pedestrian kiosks in the signage plan may shrink to 12, and staff will wait to move forward with 71 pedestrian directional signs, which Nichols said could spur worries about too many signs.
Despite the ability to use cheaper sign bases, the city could be stuck using double the amount on the 40 proposed signs Nichols said. FDOT identified some of the 292 signs that needed bigger font and, hence, another post to secure them. At a cost of about $2,500 per sign, that adds $100,000 to the plan.
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