New ‘Welcome to Downtown Edmonds’ sign officially unveiled

Updated with cost of sign.

The City of Edmonds Tuesday celebrated the completion of a three-year process marked by passionate (and sometimes heated) debate, much governmental process, public meetings and no small amount of controversy: replacing the Welcome to Downtown Edmonds sign that has greeted generations of motorists coming into downtown on Highway 104.

For many the iconic, much beloved — but also much deteriorated — sign spoke to a shared sense of community identity, and as the process unfolded, retaining this identity in a new sign became a paramount community concern. (Learn more in My Edmonds News’ July 2018 story here).

Tuesday morning, the new sign was unveiled on the grassy median at 5th Avenue and Highway 104 in a dedication ceremony attended by a small group of city officials, citizens and members of the citizen’s Gateway Sign Committee that helped review sign options.

After welcoming attendees, Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director and emcee Angie Feser introduced Mayor Mike Nelson, who praised the work of the sign committee for sifting through and analyzing the various alternative designs, and the parks crews who helped save city funds by performing much of the installation work in-house.

Keynote speaker was Edmonds Arts and Cultural Services Manager Frances Chapin. After echoing the mayor’s kudos, she made particular effort to recognize the key role of chief artist, designer and undisputed heartbeat of the project, Clayton Moss. (Moss, owner of Edmonds-based Forma Design, has played major roles in numerous other community design projects including Hazel Miller Plaza and the Edmonds Historical Museum patio.)

“It’s been a long road that brought us here today,” Chapin said, “and Clayton has walked every step of it.”

She noted how Moss’s role began with creating an initial modernistic treatment, then — in response to community feedback — modified it through several alternatives to come up with a design more in keeping with the spirit and feel of the old sign. Once the final design was approved, Chapin explained, Moss went on to oversee installation, siting and landscaping. He even hand-selected and personally supervised the placement of the large boulders that form the visual cues forming an integrated scene that rolls like a natural swale, drawing the eye first up to the sign and ultimately to the mountains and water in the distance.

Chapin also noted the vital role of the community in shaping the project.

“This involved hundreds of community members, two public open houses, and more than 1,800 responses to two surveys,” she explained. “It’s truly our creative community and its passion for art, design and history that inspired the elements of the installation we see today and created the overall gateway statement.”

Chapin also acknowledged the work of Edmonds-based artist and muralist Andy Eccleshall for creating the mural backdrop of the sign, which mirrors the view of the distant sound and mountains, forming a special visual treat for motorists approaching Edmonds.

Then it was time for the unveiling, and after a short countdown Parks Department workers Rob Freeman and Jeff Sienko removed the covering with a flourish to reveal the new sign.

The total cost of the sign was $25,527, plus tax of $2,659.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

7 Replies to “New ‘Welcome to Downtown Edmonds’ sign officially unveiled”

  1. GREAT LAYOUT but I’m disappointed in the contrast between “Welcome to Downtown” and the background. As evident in many of the photos, it just isn’t legible. Having worked for a large national sign mfgr for eight years, we had specific guidelines for contrast and were very cognizant of that need in the grey PNW. A brighter white like that used on the previous sign might have yielded sharper more legible graphics.

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  2. I’d say the photography isn’t the best. When you drive by it reads fine even with the gray skies. I believe Clayton owned an large International sign manufacturer for years. It’s safe to say he understands contrasts.

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    1. At the unveiling, I asked staff about lighting. There is a plan for solar-powered lighting at some point in the future, but that’s currently not scheduled.

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  3. I have to agree with Joyce. The design is beautiful and I’ve anxiously awaited the unveiling. But I have driven by it several times since it was unveiled , on the road going toward the ferry, and have thought the same thing. In particular, the smaller words “Welcome to” don’t stand out very well against the sky & clouds. I’ve wondered if there would be a way to brighten the white of those letters to make it more readable in daylight, possibly with paint that would also subtly reflect approaching headlights at night.
    I realize it’s unlikely at this stage, but it seems a shame for all the hours, talent and money that has gone into it, to not have it stand out better.

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  4. The scale and design leave a lot to be desired. I don’t see any “fixing” this sign; I’m afraid we are stuck with this. I don’t know who approved this “lil sign, with lil print”, but we did not get any value for our money.

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  5. This sign is a very poor depiction of what Edmonds is about. The previous one gave a great feeling of the sound, the ferry system, the wildlife. This one is dull and boring and gives off no vibe of our waterfront uniqueness and lifestyle.

    Very disappointing. So uninspired every time I drive by.

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