Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Signs, again

I'm prompted by an article in today's Item to revisit the draconian sign ordinance for downtown that I thought was already put to bed. (I was even present at an Ordinance Committee meeting where the restrictive black-on-gold color scheme was revisited.)

In this example of gotcha journalism, the Item calls out Council President Tim Phelan because his tenant, who just opened, has not yet hung a compliant sign. In this article, the business owner is barely a part of the conversation. I have to assume Dito's is left out of the conversation because David Liscio doesn't think they're important enough. Calling out Phelan will obviously sell more papers  and rile the Itemlive commenters. But what does leaving a new business owner alone in the crossfire accomplish?

Someone who invests sweat and money in Downtown is not insignificant. I'm angry because there is not one quote from an owner of Dito's. Maybe a sign is on its way? Maybe they've laid too much cash out already, and need to catch up a little before ordering a sign? Maybe Dito's really isn't interested in complying. But how do we know? We don't hear from them in the article. If the Item tried to reach Dito's by phone and failed, it's a five minute walk from their headquarters. There's no excuse.

I'm angry because this is no way to welcome a new business to a Downtown with too many empty storefronts.

How much time does the Sign Ordinance give a new business owner to comply? It takes time to have a sign made.

How does ISD approach a business that's out of compliance? Is it in the spirit of cooperation for a common good, as it should be, or is it more of an adversarial relationship?

And lastly, I care a lot about the look of signage in my own neighborhood. I agree that a historic building should not be defaced. But, I disagree wholeheartedly with the gold-on-black standard, or with any standard that pushes uniformity for uniformity's sake. If we're to promote the arts in DTL, we need to encourage rather than stifle creativity. Uniformity is the mark of suburban sprawl. It's not the mark of a vibrant Downtown.

Song: n/a


  1. They are just picking on the person who is on city council. The day that paper is gone will be a good day. They are responsible for the downfall of the community with the rubbish they write about.
    I read the article and then on my way into the office looked at some of the other signs out in the community. Many worse offenders. Lets drive out any and all businesses!! ARGHT...

  2. There goes your hopes of advertising with the item :-) LOL

    The article is another example of how completely irresponsible they are. They hardly ever present both sides of any story. They always have some sort of motive or attack. It's just not news. Pretty awesome that they take their non-newsworthy article and plaster it above the fold with a picture of this poor new business.

    The ISD is over it. The Lynn Item is as always behind the times a bit.

    Turbine worked with the city and soon we're going to see a very cool storefront over there. The sign he has up now is temporary, I hear. And yes, there will be colors other then black and gold.


  3. I went down to meet Dito after reading the Item and your post. http://www.downtownlynn.com/2010/03/ditos-corner-store.html


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