LaGrange City Council is set to partner with the LaGrange Downtown Development Authority to improve “wayfinding” around the city.
DDA executive director Bobby Carmichael said signs directing visitors to downtown, as well as other area attractions – even the post office – are inadequate.
Carmichael did his own informal survey of signs around the city and found the following:
• Eight “no parking” signs along the off-ramp from Interstate 85 to Lafayette Parkway. Newer exits like the one to the Kia plant only have two no parking signs.
• Signs directing visitors to the health department on Vernon Road, although the department has moved to Dallis Street.
• Signs that are too small to read, including two for the Episcopal church.
• Signs that are outdated.
• Signs for certain attractions that could be grouped together on one sign instead of using several signs.
Carmichael said the DDA has agreed to fund a more formal study of signs in the area and figure out where signs could be improved or replaced. He’d like to see the city’s main entrance ways, particularly the interstate exits, be improved with signs and landscaping.
A study could cost as much as $40,000, although the DDA hasn’t put out official requests for proposals. The DDA would like the city to chip in on the cost of any actual signs that need to be made and erected once the study is done. The price tag for that also is uncertain.
“I’d like to see us form a committee of the city, the DDA, the chamber’s tourism department and maybe even the county to decide the scope,” Carmichael said. “It needs to be ascetically pleasing and tied together and get visitors where they need to go.”
Mayor Jeff Lukken admitted that excessive signs around town are his “pet peeve.” A study would include suggestions for how to take down older signs, he said.
“If the DDA is committing to do the study, the city should consider helping them,” he said. “Some of our entrances are horrible and I appreciate the DDA stepping up to look at this issue that’s outside downtown.”
There’s no rush on the project and Carmichael said the DDA may not even have anyone chosen to do the study by the end of the budget year June 30.
Council also agreed Tuesday to float a $13 million bond for waste water improvements. The city has seen its debt decrease in recent years by refinancing some debt and paying off others early, even lowering water and sewer rates by 9 percent.
The city needs to change from gas to electric engines at the Yellow Jacket sewage pump station for a cost of about $6.8 million. It also needs to upgrade the Cherokee Road pump station to make it more reliable.
Public Works Director David Brown said the city will spend at least $6 million to maintain the Yellow Jacket pump station if the change isn’t made.
The upgrades will give the city a more reliable system and also account for future growth.
Council also voted to eliminate one curbside parking space in front of the former Social Security administration building on North Lewis Street.
Emory Clark Holder Clinic, which now owns the building, had asked two spaces be removed so that a sign advertising the clinic would be more visible. The LaGrange Police Department, however, said just one space should be eliminated to improve safety and line of sight for drivers.