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Tree & Townscape Board gives streetscape plan once over

Input from members of the Jonesborough Tree and Townscape Board on the Downtown Streetscape Plan was provided during a called meeting Jan. 4.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said Mayor Kelly Wolfe had requested the topic be placed on the agenda for the Jan. 9 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
One of the general recommendations from Equinox Environmental Consulting and Design is to simplify signage in downtown.
“Equinox says when people are in a town, they want to see consistency,” Browning said.
While the proposed Streetscape Plan indicates the locations for the signs, it does not include recommendations for their format. A signage plan would determine the manner and content the signs should communicate.
Committee member John Browning said signage for pedestrians needs to be different than that for vehicles.
“I think variety is the wrong idea because it can be difficult to read, he said. “The text style should be clear and consistent.”
LaDonna Bacon agreed. “What is up now is not pleasing,” she said. “It looks like a hodgepodge.”
Bacon made a motion to adopt a policy for uniform wayfinding signage.
“The shops can display their logos and colors on their businesses, but the signs should look like part of the town’s plan,” she said.
John Browning seconded the motion and amended it to include a study be conducted for detailed recommendations. The amended motion passed with unanimous approval.
According to Bob Browning, Equinox could develop the plan at a cost of $1,200.
“It doesn’t have to be Equinox, but I think it would cost more than $1,000 for another firm to conduct the study,” he said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the signage issue, and my recommendation is that we have a group that will look into this or pay a firm.”
Bacon suggested getting a proposal from a sign company rather than paying a consultant, and Cair Sue Henley proposed doing it in-house.
“We know where the signs need to go — we live here,” Henley said.
Bob Browning said requirements from the Tennessee Department of Transportation will need to be considered for the vehicular signage, though he doesn’t think that will be a big issue.
“But I think more homework needs to be done,” he said. “It would be appropriate for this board to come up with recommendations to go to the Historic Zoning Commission.
Terry Countermine said he thinks it would be best to have a smaller group whose members will put in some time and bring options back to the board. The following individuals were appointed to the small group: Bacon, John Browning, staff member Terry Alexander, and Todd Wood, an engineer on retainer with the town.
Nancy Kavanaugh asked who pays for the signage. Bob Browning said the businesses cover the cost, the Historic Zoning Commission approves the design, and the town installs them.
Henley said the signs should be designed so that a name could be removed. “If someone’s out of business, it needs to go. We still have signs up for businesses that have closed,” she said.
Board members also discussed moving the monument in front of the courthouse.
“Historic Zoning has recommended the monument be moved and do landscaping on either side,” Bob Browning said.
Kavanaugh made a motion to move the monument to the west side of the courthouse. Countermine seconded the motion, which passed on unanimous vote.
Bob Browning asked board members’ opinion on tree-lined sidewalks on either side of the courthouse. John Browning made a motion to approve trees on the east and west sides of the courthouse. The motion, seconded by Bacon, passed on unanimous vote.
“Trees are such a critical part of the plan, we need the recommendation of the professionals,” Jim Eldridge said, referring to the choice of trees that will be planted.
The decision then turned to the placement of five kiosks in public parking areas that would have a general map of the downtown corridor including key destinations, the greenway, and key landmarks.
“What you’re talking about in general is if they’re needed. They would not take the place of the Visitors Center,” Bob Browning said, adding that the implementation of kiosks will be determined by the amount of funds available.
John Browning made a motion to include the kiosks, which passed with unanimous vote.
“The intent of the plan is to say this is where we want to be and this is how we want to look,” Bob Browning said. “It may take us two, five or 10 years to get there.”