$35K LED Sign Designed to Attract Downtown Visitors Receives Approval

The sign that will sit close to original homes was approved by a 4 to 2 vote with one trustee abstaining. Village President John Hermes and others objected to the $35,000 sign.

Over objections of the village president, a $35,000 LED sign will soon attempt to draw shoppers from  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.”

greendaleishome March 23, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Great for Hermes! A sign is tacky but not 3 story apartment buildings in the Historic Village? He's willing to vote no over a few resident's concerns about devaluing their property, but he's not willing to listen to over 50 residents concerns over devaluing their village. Yikes, when's the next election?
Bren March 23, 2012 at 04:40 AM
I cannot believe that Greendale spent money on this sign. Has anyone on the Village Board visited historic Williamsburg or Alexandria, Virginia for a sense of how an historic district should be celebrated and preserved? Tacky signs and an oversized, unnecessary apartment building in place of needed parking right in the center of the village are not how it's done. This is very bad for Greendale.
pooksilby March 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Dr, Deb Harding March 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM
As an owner of an original...one street away from this sign, I am concerned that it will scream TACKY...which is not in harmony with our village. Getting consumers to Broad St. is a complicated problem which I know village officials have struggled. It is not one that signage will solve. First of all Greendale residents do not support the Broad St. venues. Over the past decade I have watched shops come and go as one by one they fall victim to the economy and apathy that is our current reality. Right now the village should be studying what would make people WANT to visit Broad Street? What does the village offer that cannot be found on 76th street? Please...a huge sign is not the answer.
Carol L. March 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM
The code for business signage in Greendale is OUTRAGEOUSLY restrictive (the code would be only half as lengthy if it described what IS allowed). And yet this LED sign is up for consideration? In addition, I agree with others that the aesthetics of this sign, with its high-tech look, does not match the concept of what "Historic" downtown Greendale portrays.
designerconcerns March 23, 2012 at 02:41 PM
This sign approval is very disappointing. Especially as we as a community "Celebrate 75 years". The sign is inappropriate for a number or resaons; devaluing property, doesn't fit within the historic context, it's TACKY as can be. And the biggest problem is that I can't imagine how it wil help to draw people to the Village...no one turns off of Grange to go down Northway unless they already have a reason. I am troubled by the direction the Village is going...LED signs, apartments buildings near schools. I'm very fearful of what the next 75 years will bring...let alsone the next 10. We moved here for the charm and character that Grenndale is known for...if we start 'loostening the reigns' of these core values, we will be like any other town in America.
Lucinda Kaczorowski March 23, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Love the sign idea!! No one new to the village traveling on Grange is going to know that the "entrance" to the Village is right there without a eye-catching sign...as far as devaluing the homes, please. The added revenue to the Village that the increased traffic will bring the businesses is what is needed. Can't wait to see the sign - bring it on!!
Luvmybubble March 23, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I totally agree with you Lucinda! Although i do not live in Greendale anymore. It saddens me to see the village again loosing retailers and it again becoming like a ghost town! Get over it! Think of the revenue it will bring in and some jobs even. Although i would like to see some extended hours with the stores. Hello people! People work till 5 if you close at 5 how do you expect to make any money! But that is the fault of the Retailers. I have had many favorite stores i would shop in! GONE! Its a wonder they all are leaving, it is fine to cater to the "tourists" but the retailers must also give the community and others opportunities to spend their money. At least have hours till 7! I say require that they are open till at least 7.
Bren March 23, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Lucinda, do you have any statistics to share that LED signs advertising other historic districts have significantly increased business? In my experience, maintaining the historic "feel" while providing state-of-the-art services has worked well, not homogenization.
Bren March 23, 2012 at 05:53 PM
As I indicated in an earlier post, the Originals are ringed by homogenous (sorry) housing with no separation, no signage. Suddenly one finds oneself in the middle of something interesting. The Village Board should talk to the people at Ten Chimneys and/or Old World Wisconsin. They have successfully created "destinations." We should be looking at historic preservation grant opportunities, not homogenization. We do not want to be the generation that dilutes Greendale into marginalization because of lack of creative thinking. Walmart and this apartment complex "cuckoo" are our defining moment. Clearly we have folks on the Village Board who do not appreciate the opportunity that our village presents. Take a look at this site for Colonial Williamsburg: http://www.preserveamerica.gov/3-18-04PAcommunity-williamsburgVA.html Note the government agencies involved. They created an intermodal transportation hub. If you look at Williamsburg's tourism opportunities, they have re-enactments, etc. We're not quite the same, but have we pursued grants on a large scale? We have a Historical Society and tours, etc., but we need a create a context of interest and we have failed. We could say we are losing our identity, but has it even been defined? That's why the village has fallen prey to "developers" who have constructed some really uninspiring buildings in and around the village; and equally uninspiring board members.
obtw March 23, 2012 at 08:03 PM
You're comparing Greendale to Williamsburg? A more appropriate comparison might be historical Levittown. Re-enactments? What would Greendale re-enact? The Great Depression?
CowDung March 23, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I have no idea why anyone would think that such a sign would attract visitors from downtown. I'm very certain that I would never gather the family together and declare that "we are going out to Greendale tonight so we can see their big LED sign"...
FL Born March 24, 2012 at 05:35 PM
We vote April 3rd but no one is running against him, so he's ours for another 3 years! Well, since he showed his bais by signing the Recall Walker Petition he's the lefties for another 3 years! More subsidizing coming to Greendale! I'll let you read between the lines on that one! Here's to higher taxes and lower home values!
Debbie Lang March 25, 2012 at 12:35 AM
At a time when our Village sorely needs REAL leadership from our Village elected officials, we are given a Wal-Mart and a tacky LED sign at the entrance to a federally recognized historic community! Taxpayers are on the hook for millions in TIF dollars for a shopping mall – a dying business model. On the bright side, we are getting a Panda Express, please Google that low-rent, drive-thru version of P.F. Changs! It is clearly time for new leadership to step up in Greendale. We have a stagnant, out of touch Village Board, with elected officials who see their stewardship of our community as a job for life rather than community service. I will never cast a vote for this sorry lot of Trustees again. Time for some fresh blood and real leadership!
Bren March 25, 2012 at 02:33 AM
obtw, please re-read my source post, "We're not quite the same..." I would have suggested a recreation of Eleanor Roosevelt's visit if I thought there'd be any money in it... ; )
Jason Patzfahl March 25, 2012 at 02:24 PM
What the Greendale Chamber of Commerce wants, they get. "Ewwww, shiny object!"
Bren March 25, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Panda Express, i.e. MSG.
SWeimer March 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
It seems that Greendale politics are on the same path as Washingtons...spend money with no regard to spending it wisely. The money for that gawdy sign could have been spent to hire a teacher for another year. I find it amusing that we have historical guidelines in place for building in the village center but this sign does not meet any of them, and don't even get me started on the eyesore apartments they want to build in the Village .....they are UGLY!!!! All you will see from the streets is cars parked all around them....yes that will certainly preserve the village esthetics.
ajax March 27, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Everyone should stop demonizing the entire board and realize that Trustee Genz is by far the most consistently fiscally responsible member of the board and I'm glad he voted no.
Jesse March 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Did you go to the trustee meeting and see the mess of people that consist of the Board? The Village President who thinks an LED sign is tacky but not 3 story apartment buildings in a parking lot. Sally Chadwick who voted for the sign- wanted more information about the design of the sign, wanted to send it back to public works, but then votes for it even without the information she wanted to make an educated vote. Who buys anything without having final plans/product in place? Come Tuesday, election day, those two will not have my vote. Yup, you don't have to connect the line for Village Trustee or President, you don't have to write in a name, just leave it blank and let you voice be heard. No confidence in the current board.
jeff ircink April 18, 2012 at 11:10 PM
why, pray tell, does Greendale have a planning commission if this was not sent to the planning commission for its feedback. why? cause the planning commission would've - as our Village President stated - ripped it to shreds. nice going, Board of Trustees. my grandfather helped settle Greendale when it opened and he's rolling in his grave right now. pathetic.
jeff ircink April 19, 2012 at 02:03 AM
historical guidelines? exactly - which is why the planning commission would've thrown this out had it gone to them first. AND - the planning commission was aware of this and i know that some of the members were dead-set against it. SWeimer????? :) WHOOO!
jeff ircink April 19, 2012 at 02:27 AM
i live here and i wouldn't call d.t. Greendale a "ghost town"....or even heading in that direction. retailers need to create "events" to get people d.t.
jeff ircink July 07, 2012 at 08:45 PM
personal UPDATE: i just saw the new LED sign. my thoughts: 1) still against the sign; however, it doesn't look as bad as i thought. 2) perhaps the green lettering is because we're Greendale, but i think WHITE would show up better and be more easily seen. 3) does the sign actually direct people to d.t. Greendale? "Greendale - this way"? there are a couple other signs that say "Greendale". what difference will this sign make - even if you post events? there are people who live in Greendale who've said they don't even know where the Village is. 4) will the cost justify the sign? will the sign, in fact, direct/draw people to the Village? and once down in the Village, what has/will change d.t. to justify someone being directed to come down there?


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