City Council votes no to funding new design for tourism signs

On Monday, St. Joseph City Council voted no on spending Hotel/Motel tax funds on new designs for wayfinding signage around town.

Posted: Oct 8, 2019 6:25 PM
Updated: Oct 8, 2019 7:00 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) On Monday, St. Joseph City Council voted no on spending Hotel/Motel tax funds on new designs for wayfinding signage around town. 

The Buchanan County Tourism Board (which functions as the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau) said the current blue wayfinding signs largely seen in Downtown are now 24 years old, and are fading and outdated. 

"A couple came in [Tuesday] from St. Charles and they said, 'Oh my gosh, we can't believe how much you have to see and do here, but your signage is really bad,'" Marci Bennett, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "This signage would really help them not only get to where they need to go, but help them realize what else there is along the way."

The Board had presented its design funding proposal to the St. Joseph Tourism Commission - a committee created by City Council - who voted all in favor of it, and agreed to suggest it to City Council.

The proposal was for the City to match the Buchanan County Tourism Board up to $50,000 for the design phase of upgrading the tourism signage. However, the City voted the bill down in a seven to two vote.

Previous story: City council nixes two spending projects.

"I heard loud and clear from the council that they were not in favor of paying for the design of anything anymore," Richard DeShon, Chairman on the St. Joseph Tourism Commission, said. "The council has the final say on any project or any money we spend."

At the meeting on Monday, Councilman Kent O'Dell said he felt the design aspect of the plan wasn't needed.

"I'm about designed out. You know, we spend so much money on designs on just about everything that we do and half the time we don't get our money worth," O'Dell said. 

The City added that the upkeep of the signs falls under the Public Works Department. They said they'll look into taking down old and outdated signs, and possibly adding signs for new tourism attractions. 

But, Bennett said the proposal they put forth to the council covered more than just the look of the signs. The funding would have also gone towards a study of what signs are needed and where to put them, as well as the possibility of adding color-coded zoning.

"If you were in the downtown area for example maybe that's a red zone where all of the signs have a red motif to them and then if you're in the shops up North maybe it's a green motif, but it's the same type of sign that can get you from place to place," Bennett said. 

She added that the Buchanan Co. Tourism Board has looked to other cities for ideas of how to incorporate more modern technology into helping visitors get around the city. She said some areas of added an interactive component that works with an individual's smartphone.

"A lot of [people] do have smartphones and know how to use them, but that's not going to let them know what's going by that they don't know about," Bennett said. "You might punch in that you're going to the Patee House, but, in the meantime, you're driving by the Albretch-Kemper Art Museum or by Museum Hill District."

Bennett said the Board isn't giving up on the new tourism signage just yet, but added that the group needs to meet and discuss what their next step will be.

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