New Culver Information Sign

Marty Oosterbaan gave an Stellar Update to the Culver merchants on the weekly Zoom call Friday. The item that caught my attention was the community sign project. I remembered that from the Stellar presentation and I think it’s a good idea. Basically, the plan is to establish electronic signs in all of the Marshall County communities, similar to the existing Lions Club sign in Culver, where community and regional messages can be displayed. This would be a just another form of communication supplementing internet and newspapers. Community events can be listed and can be cross-listed between the communities to promote local events.

I am working on a similar project for the Francesville Salem Township Public Library so I shared some of those cost estimates. (An electronic sign runs between $25k & $35k per Vanadco Sign) I have a few more thoughts on how this sign should be handled in Culver, so I thought I would share them here:

Fieldstone facade at The Paddocks
  1. I would like to see Culver follow the Charrette recommendations when they think about this and continue the fieldstone theme. The Chamber and the Second Century Committee really pushed this early on and I think it’s worth carrying forward. Their efforts resulted in the fieldstone theme for the Culver sign at 10 & 17, the Lion’s Club sign at the Depot and the stone wall at the turn across from The Root Beer Stand. We’ve gotten away from this, but I think things like that make a statement. We’re using fieldstone accents on the townhomes at The Paddocks for that reason. Personally I was very disappointed when the Firemen went with the faux stone in lieu of the fieldstone that was proposed for their memorial.
  2. The Chamber of Commerce thought long and hard about the sign at the corner of S.R. 17 and S.R. 10. Other communities were putting up the smaller plastic signs. Marshall County Tourism was giving away some of these and they were installed at three of our other entrances to Town. The Chamber wanted to make a statement with the sign they installed and they wanted that sign to be something substantial and permanent. Stellar should consider this permanence too. Culver should consider kicking in money if the budget is too tight. We should make this one of the things that commemorates the Stellar effort for decades.
  3. I think there needs to be a lot of care in decisions about where we place this:
    • While the best visible place might be above the above mentioned wall on the Lake Shore Drive turn, it should not be placed where it detracts from the Lake, Park or other current picturesque views and vistas.
    • The Lions Club sign already serves this function to some extent, so providing some separation to expand the audience, and frankly, space out the visual clutter, would be preferable.
    • We have a sign ordinance and while this would be a municipal sign and therefore exempt, those criteria were memorialized in the Zoning Ordinance for a reason and should be considered.
    • We should not get hung up on this being a free standing sign. There are options for placing this on buildings where it would be highly visible and such a location would be more cost effective if it work.
    • The Francesville Library wants to use the sign to communicate to their community about the library, but then will put community messages on it at other times. Maybe Culver Union Township Public Library is another potential partner?
  4. There have been efforts in the past to create information kiosks in town. The cost has always turned out to be prohibitive, but this might be an opportunity to combine things like this. Even if it’s not part of the original project, if access to the electrical service can be made available for future uses, that expands the bang for the buck.
  5. Because this will draw some electricity, working with the various utilities up front may garner free service if they get some accolades. I know NIPSCO and IMPA give economic development grants for things and this could be applicable.
  6. And a final caution that we do our best to make the back-end bullet proof or as much so as possible. I have been working with Good Oil and they just recently told me about how a kid had figured out how to hack into their network from his cell phone and patch in porn on the TV’s at one of their stores. If you are going to set this up so that the message can be programmed remotely by MC Tourism or other, then it has internet connections and is a target for hackers.

I think this is a great idea and has a lot of potential. As always, the Devil is in the Details. Good luck, Marty!

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