Council committee eyes design for new downtown sign; diversity commission makes report

Plans for the new sign relative to the existing sign, as presented to the City Council’s Parks and Public Works Committee Tuesday night.

The sign welcoming people to the south end of downtown Edmonds is about to get a new look.

The Edmonds City Council’s Parks and Public Works Committee gave its blessing to the proposed new sign during its Tuesday night meeting, forwarding it to council consent agenda for approval next week.

The city first identified in 2006 that the existing wooden sign, located on Washington State Department of Transportation right-of-way between Highway 104 and 5th Avenue South, was deteriorating. In 2016, the city decided it was time to replace it.

The current wooden side. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

City Arts and Culture Program Manager Frances Chapin told the committee that the new ‘Downtown Edmonds” sign has been designed to follow the city’s current wayfinding sign program,  which is coordinated by the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department. To ensure consistency, the city is working with Clayton Moss of Edmonds-based environmental graphics firm Forma, which has designed the city’s other wayfinding signs,

An example of another wayfinding sign created by Forma.

Forma has been meeting with staff from the city’s economic development and parks departments and an advisory committee consisting of citizen members of the city’s Arts Commission, Economic Development Commission and Planning Board to develop the signage. The committee also had to satisfy State Department of Transportation requirements.

The goal was to some up with a design “that reflected our seaside nature, our connection to the water,” Chapin said.

The budget for the new sign is $40,000.

The sign will be moved slightly east of the current location and the entire area around it will be re-landscaped to accommodate the shape and the form of the signage design, Chapin added. It will be softly illuminated 24 hours a day with solar-powered LED lights.

The sign will be placed on two poles installed into an underground foundation surrounded by a landscape bed. The landscaping will have a maritime feel, similar to the driftwood and sea grasses recently installed at Brackett’s Landing North.

One advantage to the new sign and the easterly location is that it will be more visible to those driving on Highway 104 toward the ferry terminal, Chapin said.

Committee member Kristiana Johnson asked what would happen to the old sign, and Chapin said it’s possible that it could be donated to the Edmonds Historical Museum.

Johnson and Committee Chair Neil Tibbott agreed to place approval of the sign design on the consent agenda for the next council business meeting.

You can see the design document here.

Diversity Commission Vice Chair Donnie Griffin speaks to the City Council.

Prior to committee meetings, the council had a brief business meeting that included an update from the city’s Diversity Commission, with Vice Chair Donnie Griffin presenting.

Griffin noted that the commission, created by the council in April 2015, has as its mission to promote and embrace diversity through action, education and guidance. Part of its work includes providing recommendations to the mayor and city council on opportunities that “ensure an accessible, safe, welcoming and inclusive government and community.”

To that end, the commission has sponsored two World Cafés — community discussions about diversity, bias, inclusion and equity — and two “Your Voice Matters” Youth Forums. Another visible event has been the Diversity Film Series, which ran from October 2017 to April 2018, drawing 75 to 100 attendees to each film screening at the Edmonds Theater. Preparation is underway for 2018-19 film series starting this fall.

In addition, the commission initiated a grants program that distributed up to $500 to various community diversity projects.

The commission will return to the council later this summer to present policy recommendations, and also plans to add a student representative in the fall, Griffin said.

You can see the complete Diversity Commission presentation here.





21 Replies to “Council committee eyes design for new downtown sign; diversity commission makes report”

  1. Wow the new sign looks pretty basic, 40k seems a bit much. Rather see local Artist commissioned to recreate existing sign and put light on timer to illuminate sign at night, may save 20k and kick that money to homeless fund? Sign going to look like every other city signage not a Fan. Maybe have local artist submit new sign designs and let public have a say???


    1. I agree. The small wayfinding sign is excellent. The large one, not at all. Too small, hard to read, doesn’t match small signs… just no good.


  2. The people that own Zinc made some shirts that have an Edmonds logo of their own design. It’s cliche, featuring an anchor, but also sorta works. Zinc nailed it, and it would make a great sign, bumper sticker, city brand. Where did Ed! come from? Isn’t there power up there for lights already? Solar panels? Make it wind powered.


  3. I love our old sign! Please don’t redesign it. Sometimes original is better. Let’s see Edmonds embrace our heritage as well as moving forward. If the sign is getting old, auction off the old one….Lots would be interested. Let’s remake it, bigger if needed. But, please don’t redesign it!! Add landscaping. Downtown is so lush and full of flowers. #nocheesynewsigns


  4. I agree with McMurray. Our old sign is filled with charm and personality. Why does the design need to change to something so dull and generic looking?


  5. Back to the drawing board – keep the old one or so
    Etching close – $40k seems like way to much for a sign unless they can do 3 of them!
    How let the public have a say?


  6. The design for the proposed sign is cold and unwelcoming in comparison to the previous signage. It does not reflect Edmonds’ character as an artistic, small-town feeling community. Instead it evokes a sense that Edmonds is an annex of Seattle, at best —at worst it resembles airport signage.

    Please re-consider remaking the old sign in a more resilient material (milled aluminum?). Or ask the community for design submissions with this important decision.


    1. Ryan, you really think the new sign looks like this Seatac sign:

      And even if it did Airport signs are some of the most positively recognizable signs in the world. Case in point: LAX.


  7. The new sign has no character. We have a charming, unique downtown area- why not express that? I was disappointed when they replaced the Yost Park sign with a generic script befitting a water treatment facility. It’d be a shame to have the “grand” entrance to the city follow the same track. Celebrate local artisans and the character that makes Edmonds special!


  8. These comments may seem overmwhemingly negative, but lets remember they’re only the opinions of 8 people within a city of 42,000 . That accounts for .01% percent of the poplulation, I wouldn’t say thats a good representation of the community as a whole. Also, people who feel negatively about a story are more likely to voice their opinion – people who like the sign or indifferent to it probably won’t make a comment. I know people are adverse to change, they always are but in order to stay relevant as a city we need to move forward. Edmonds can’t be stuck in the 1970’s forever.

    The old sign is not reflective of our new high end restaurants and stores that have opened their doors in Edmonds during the last 5 years. I’d say the new one does a better job at that.

    For one, I’m all for change and progrssion. Good for you COE for making that same committment!

    P.S. Airport signage looks like this: – nothing like the design of the new sign.


    1. Ironically, thumbs up and down was removed because a vocal minority complained. That indicator would disambiguate public opinion. 40 G’s is a lot of money.


    2. How many of the 42,000 know this is in the works? Decisions like this are made in relative obscurity. The public isn’t informed until the damage is done. Thankfully we have a media source that’s brought this to our attention.

      I agree that cities need to evolve. But a city with a special character needs to work to retain it. It’s easy to to succumb to a bland generic aesthetic. Leave that to Lynnwood though.


  9. How great it would be if the “Alaska Airlines – Scum of the Skies” guy had the same commitment to the environment and used solar panels to light his sign at night. Ya can’t put a dollar amount on that. 🙂


  10. With or without this sign Edmonds wil continue to be relevant. Relevant to what or who? A sign does not make a community relevant it is the people who care enough to ask the questions and support local business and Edmonds.

    Those of us who have a long history in this community realize it will grow. To ask the question ,why this sign, is healthy and shows concern for how Edmonds grows.


  11. Please keep the existing sign! It is warm and authentic, and thematically perfect — ferry, water, mountains — for this long standing beach community. We pride ourselves on our murals and what makes our community so unique, yet we are considering something devoid of any icons symbolic of our town.

    This new design is cold, generic and lacks any character. It looks more like the entrance to a mall than a beautiful seaside community. Let’s spend the money to restore or replicate what is there today. Please put this through due process and have an open forum for discussion with the town, not just a council business meeting.


  12. I would gladly support a GoFundMe page to raise money to have a woodcarver create a new sign that mimics the one being removed. This is a great sign with character, and appeals to the small town America roots of downtown Edmonds. The new sign is a classic example of function over form. This misstep here was starting the design based on the assumption that it must be an extension of the wayfinding initiative.


  13. I really like the current sign! I would agree with McMurray that it would be great to commission an Edmonds artist to do something so it doesn’t look like every other city sign out there. $40K for that sign?? I am willing to bet that there are a ton more people that will be blown away that the city is looking to do this! The city needs re-think this one.


  14. Michael Darrington makes some good points. The new sign fits with the signage already deployed and it’s an attractive design. The old sign doesn’t fit with the others and, while it’s not ugly, it does have a bit of an ‘80s look to it. Time to update.


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