City looking for a sign
Firms submit proposals for signs at Tonganoxie entrances
It was a test of wills Monday night, as city council members considered proposals from companies interested in building "welcome to Tonganoxie" signs.
Two companies -- Eagle Memorials of Tonganoxie and Star Signs and Graphics of Lawrence -- made presentations to the council about two signs for U.S. Highway 24-40. A third firm, Miller Sign of Bonner Springs, had submitted a proposal, but did not attend Monday's council meeting.
Mayor Dave Taylor liked the Eagle Memorials proposal so much that he made a motion at Monday night's city council meeting to hire the firm to build the signs.
"You can't make a motion," council member Ron Cranor told the mayor. "You're out of order."
And although he was out of order, Taylor wasn't to be deterred. He said he would veto any motion to table the issue.
But the council voted 5-0 to wait until its Aug. 14 meeting to discuss the matter further -- without the promised mayoral veto. Council members said they want additional information about where the city can place the signs -- particularly on the south side of town, where council members are worried about whether sufficient room exists.
Council members are thinking the new, more durable, signs would replace the wooden signs at the city's east and south entrances.
City Administrator Mike Yanez said the Kansas Department of Transportation requires that signs be at least 35 feet from the edge of the highway.
"We need to be far enough back so that we're not sitting down in the ditch like we are right now," council member Velda Roberts said of the sign location on the south side of town.
And the city must obtain permission from KDOT to place the signs.
"I have serious questions about the one on the south side of town," Cranor said. "I don't think there's enough right of way to do that."
Council member Jason Ward said he's concerned about the city's liability if a vehicle hit one of the signs.
"It wouldn't be any different if you had a big old oak tree sitting out there," the mayor said.
"But we didn't select the oak tree," Ward said.
The council received proposals from three firms. On Monday, council members appeared to remove from consideration Miller Sign's plan for a 6-by-8-foot prefabricated stucco finished sign, costing $12,340 for two signs.
"I didn't care for their design," Ward said. "I didn't care for the product that particular presenter brought forward."
And Roberts said, "Actually, for me, just from the visibility, it's a very attractive sign, but it doesn't give me the impression that I want for a sign coming into the city."
Here's a look at the two proposals still in the running:
Bill Jones, vice president of the company, discussed his firm's plans for two 4-by-6-foot polished gray granite signs, which would cost $15,200. He said lighting the signs would cost $1,200 for each sign.
"I hope you don't think it looks like a tombstone, because it don't," said Jones, who also makes gravestones.
He said artwork -- a sun and four shocks of wheat -- and letters would be recessed into the stone.
"And then you put a special dye in there that doesn't wash out," Jones said. ''... You won't have to do any maintenance to it, except for cut the grass. If you put that up, it's going to last longer than anybody in this room. I hate to say that. It will last longer than myself."
The mayor asked Jones if he could knock a corner off the signs, to make it appear more like the state of Kansas.
"I think that would be a grand idea," Jones said, adding that Wellsville's signs have that design.
Jones, who also emphasized his was a local company, said he could complete the project in about 60 days.
Star Signs and Graphics
Mike Schmidt offered two decorative options for 7-by-12.5-foot aluminum cabinets featuring aluminum letters.
One option, with the sun free-standing, would cost $18,084 for two signs. The second option, with the sun incorporated in the cabinetry, would cost $15,550 for two signs.
The signs also feature wheat shocks. The prices include flood lamps and a mow pad.
"I like this one, where it's free-standing," Roberts said of the two Star Signs options.
Schmidt said that in seven to eight years, darker colors on the sign would fade and would require painting -- at a cost of about $1,000 per sign, in today's dollars.
Schmidt said the signs could be installed within eight weeks, after the city approves final designs.
If the signs were smaller, say 8-by-10-feet, Schmidt said, the cost would go down. Council members asked Schmidt to provide the cost at that size.
A matter of aesthetics
At the conclusion of the presentations, the mayor pushed for the council to choose Eagle, noting that company's sign would be maintenance-free.
"The question is: Which one looks better," council member Steve Gumm said.
"A lot of it boils down to aesthetics," the city administrator said.