The natural-themed option is preferred choice at open house; public chimes in on signage options

SPOKESMAN PHOTOS: COREY BUCHANAN - Citizens weighed in on design options for wayfinding signs at June 26 open house. Featuring differing color palettes, structural designs and base materials, the City of Wilsonville is considering three distinctive options for new monument and directional signage that could help citizens more easily navigate city streets.

The design options were revealed at the signage and wayfinding open house June 26. And for attendees, the preferred option was clear.

Though less than 10 citizens showed up to the event, those who did resoundingly favored the option, "undulating stone," that accentuates the City's natural environment rather than its history and architecture.

The open house and an online survey, which was posted last week on the Wilsonville website, will inform the design process and new designs could be developed based on feedback.

Signs that will be changed or added include large park or city building signs, vehicular signs, kiosks, park signs, pedestrian fingerboards, sign toppers and other wayfinding signs that would point travelers to neighborhoods, parks, schools and other important landmarks, destinations and neighborhoods.

Earlier this year, Wilsonville City Council approved a contract with Alta Planning and Design to develop potential designs. Then, a focus group featuring 15 Wilsonville citizens informed the design process. After taking in the feedback, Alta and the City unveiled three design options at the open house.

"I think they (Alta) did a very good job of capturing the input that citizens provided at the focus group," Wilsonville Planning Director Chris Neamtzu said.

The undulating stone design is based on the verbiage: "soft, flowing and connected." It's inspired by Willamette River features and includes a gabion basket of river stones, curvy lines and corten steel. Alta Planning and Design representative Mary Stewart said this option was the clear favorite among open house attendees and City staff and residents the Spokesman talked with all favored the option.

"I like that natural look," Wilsonville resident Phyllis Millan said. "That's Wilsonville. We have trees and parks and we would like to maintain that feel."

"The stone is an authentic material as opposed to the fake wood," Wilsonville resident and Wilsonville Planning Commission member Kamran Mesbah said.

Wilsonville Councilor Charlotte Lehan added: "It's also distinctive. The others people wouldn't notice as much."

Stewart said residents raised concerns about the durability of the stone and suggested replacing that with concrete and nature-based designs.

"That sounds really cool," Stewart said. "I love that idea."

The ornate cast iron option is intended to be "traditional, sophisticated, timeless and iconic" and is inspired by the older architecture in Wilsonville. It features a navy color, a cast iron powder, a coated frame and a white acorn logo.

Both Mesbah and Millan thought this option emphasized the city's history too much.

"The cast iron is too historic. This is a relatively young city. You see that stuff on the East Coast a lot," Mesbah said. "I don't think that's keeping

with the personality of Wilsonville."

The weathered wood option, which is based on the ideals: "historic, friendly, reflective and fractals," was inspired by Wilsonville's agricultural history and old architecture. It features rustic natural wood and a board-formed concrete base.

"The third one was nice but it felt too industrial to me," Millan said. "I like the look of it. It was clean. I wanted it to feel more welcoming."

The City and Alta are currently in the design phase of the process and will eventually decide exactly where the signs need to be placed. From here, Wilsonville will establish a preferred design and high priority routes later this summer, and create final design drawings and the final signage plan from October to February.

Regardless of aesthetics, City staff and citizens agree that improved signage that signifies and connects various destinations is needed.

Neamtzu said residents and nonresidents regularly can't find or don't know about features such as the dog park at Memorial Park and the Korean War Memorial in Town Center Park and that signs that point to these areas will bolster navigation.

"You may drive to Memorial Park expecting to find the Korean War Memorial down there, only to be, no it's in Town Center Park," Neamtzu said. "Within the parks there's a lot of opportunity. Most people who visit Memorial Park don't know there's a river, a boat dock. They go there for the sports fields."

Neamtzu also said signage would be cleaned up in the Wilsonville Road corridor, which is cluttered with signs.

Mesbah and Millan agreed that the current signage in Wilsonville is suboptimal.

"It's spotty. There's stuff that unless you've lived here for a few years, you don't know exists," Mesbah said. "There's definitely a need (not only) for a better sign system for the city, but something that adds to the aesthetics of the city as well."

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