New tourism signs planned for College Hill

jgaines@macon.comNovember 30, 2012 

A new look is planned for directional signs to local attractions and historic sites in and around the College Hill area, and it’s likely to extend throughout downtown Macon.

The College Hill Alliance has money to put up historic-looking signposts, and pedestrian maps on curbside kiosks.

“It’s a big part of the master plan,” said Jessica Walden, director of communications for the College Hill Alliance.

A resolution to allow their installation -- and for city Central Services personnel to do the work -- sailed through the city Public Properties Committee this week. It’s expected to get a final City Council vote Tuesday.

Brown state-authorized tourism signs already point to many of the area’s attractions, but some of them are outdated -- such as the ones directing people to the now-closed Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Walden said.

The new signs should be easy for visitors to spot, but blend into the streetscape for residents, she said.

“Good signage, you don’t notice it unless you’re looking for it,” Walden said. Planners hope to eliminate some jumbles of multiple signposts, she said.

An October 2011 public meeting in College Hill got the process started, and in the past year volunteers walked the area to pick out sign locations, Walden said. A group of local designers came up with the new signs’ look, making sure to match Macon’s approved street sign standards and colors, she said.

They’ve picked out spots of 19 directional signposts, four slightly larger signs, and seven or eight map kiosks. Also, two monument-style signs for Tattnall Square Park and one for Washington Park are planned, Walden said.

Funding for planning and buying the signs came from Knight Neighborhood Challenge grants through the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, a total of more than $130,000, she said. That’s enough for all the signs, extra poles, and perhaps banners to identify particular areas such as Beall’s Hill, or replacing the faded banners on Cotton Avenue, Walden said.

The sign design is intended to become a template for use in other parts of the city, and that may not take long to happen. The resolution sponsored by council members Lauren Benedict and Larry Schlesinger also authorizes matching signs to go up downtown. Those would be the responsibility of Main Street Macon.

“We’re going to go right up to City Hall, and Main Street is going to take it from there,” Walden said.

There’s no money yet for downtown signs, but Main Street Macon is looking for its own grants, or perhaps holding a fundraiser, Main Street Macon Manager Mechel McKinley said. Several tourism- or infrastructure-related grant programs are possibilities, and the College Hill Alliance’s receipt of grant funds for the first stage should help get a second round, she said.

Main Street is planning 10 or 11 directional signs and two map kiosks, for which locations have been tentatively selected, McKinley said.

“Now that we’ve established what we want the signage to look like, that should make it a lot easier,” she said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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