Over objections of the village president, a $35,000 LED sign will soon attempt to draw shoppers from Southridge Mall to downtown Greendale.
It’s part of an ongoing effort to bring visitors to the boutiques, shops and restaurants that comprise the quaint Village Center. Trustees approved it on a 4-2 vote Tuesday but not without hearing from Village President John Hermes.
Hermes said in the last five years or so the Village of Greendale has spent more than $80,000 on signage designed to bring people downtown. This year the village will also spend $160,000 to repave the business parking lots on both sides of Broad Street, said Hermes.
“The shops (in the Village Center) aren’t open during timely hours,” Hermes said. “I’m OK with spending money that is effective to actually help this business center.”
Planned for the intersection of Northway and Grange Avenue, the sign will be 6 feet, 7 inches wide and 5 feet, 7 inches tall. In addition to paying for and installing the sign, the village — which will control the messaging — will spend about $2,000 annually for upkeep.
The sign’s final design has not been approved due to aesthetic concerns from board members.
“Other than the LED board pictured, the wing walls and wording above the sign may not be included,” wrote Village Manager Todd Michaels in an email.
It will sit close to original homes on Apple Court and particularly close to one house. The land is village property and the owner of the home does not mind having the sign if landscaping and fencing surround it, said Trustee Greg Turay.
Turay, who abstained from voting, owns property near the sign and was concerned the sign could devalue nearby property—but that he was not completely opposed to the sign.
Hermes, on the other hand, is wholly opposed to the sign. He said adjacent property owners have emailed the village opposing the sign and expressing concern over devaluing property.
The sign evolved from meetings with shop owners discussing ways to encourage visitors to come downtown for shopping and events such as Village Days, Open Market and Gazebo concerts. That led to the idea of an LED sign at the corner of Grange Avenue and Loomis Road, as well as an archway on Northway and Grange Avenue that will be paid for mostly by the shop owners. The archway is still being discussed.
On Feb. 29 the board saw a demonstration of how the LED sign would look at the Northway intersection.
Some trustees liked the demonstrations and others didn’t.
“Against the originals it looked gaudy, cheap, out of character and out of charm,” Hermes said. “If it would have gone through Planning Commission it might have gotten eat out, chewed out and spit out. The planning commission has never allowed an LED sign except for the high school and Martin Luther High School.”
Former Village Trustee and resident Dave Bauer could not believe that the sign did not go through Planning Commission.
“I cannot believe that it has been approved,” said Bauer. “I commend those who had enough guts to vote against it.”