May 5, 2011 |

Assembly votes 4-2 for new signs

Haines Borough Assembly member Scott Rossman on April 26 again voiced his disapproval of awarding a contract to an out-of-town business for Haines signage.

"I went through my whole spiel when this whole sign thing came up about how much money we’re spending on signs," Rossman said. "I guess I don’t have a problem spending money on signs, but this money should stay here."

The assembly voted 4-2 vote to contract Boiler Room Custom Metal Work of Seattle for $21,378 plus freight for the fabrication of two kiosk signs as part of a Haines contextual signage project. Rossman and Greg Goodman voted against the resolution.

Borough staffer Debra Schnabel, who has worked with a borough signage committee, said a recent Haines downtown revitalization planning process identified a strong need for improved signage.

Borough manager Mark Earnest authorized $9,510 to MRV Architects of Juneau for preliminary design services, and then the assembly in March approved $14,052 to MRV for final design work on the signage. At that March meeting, Rossman said, "I do not want to spend money and give it to some outfit in Seattle or wherever."

Rossman and Goodman said the signs should have gone out to bid but Schnabel said bids were not necessary because the signs were an art project under a professional services contract.

The signs will be fabricated using stainless alloy to allow for salt-water proximity and harsh weather conditions.

Schnabel said each sign would last "maybe 20 years."

"It would be fantastic if there were people in the community who could take a project on of this ‘complexity,’ would be the word that I would use," she said. "When I started out with the project, honestly, Scott (Rossman), I can understand that you think, ‘What’s to a sign?’ But there’s a lot to a sign that really assists people in figuring out where they need to go in the context of the community as a whole."

Schnabel said the two contextual, or "you are here," kiosk signs will be placed at the Port Chilkoot Dock and the visitors’ center.

Schnabel said that two smaller signs, with a cost of less than $10,000, will go up at the harbor and Dalton City. They do not require assembly approval.

Earnest said directional signage would be a later portion of the borough’s signage program and said funding is "largely cruise ship (tax) money, to get people to come into town to spend money."

"The assembly appropriated $80,000 last year through the cruise ship fund and half of it through the economic development fund," he said. "This is targeting the cruise ship passengers; it’s an effort to bring people into the community. There’s an additional $30,000 to finish the project out of the cruise ship fund for (fiscal year 2012)."

Member Steve Vick said one benefit of approval on April 26 is that the signs can be in place this tourist season.

He referred to an estimated $2 million for Port Chilkoot Dock waterfront improvements, including a new restroom building that will serve tourists, to explain his support.

"In comparison, this (cost) is very little, and probably a lot more effective for the economic development of the community than a toilet," Vick said.