WENDELL — Every journey begins with that first step. The journey toward downtown Wendell soon could have the first sign – or maybe signs – to guide the way.
A project that began last year and progressed to the adoption of a guidebook took solid form recently when Wendell’s first wayfinding signage mockups rose for a short time in the median of Wendell Boulevard. With creative fundraising, a first sign and others could become permanent.
“The board (of commissioners) is very supportive of that, and obviously that’s a continuation of them adopting the wayfinding signage guidebook back in February,” Planning Director Zunilda Rodriguez said after reporting on the progress at the town board’s June 24 meeting. “The fact they were supportive of having not only staff but the economic development committee move toward actual implementation and kicking off with at least one sign is a very good thing.”
The mockups, which featured the word “Wendell” in 13-inch-tall white letters, were visible representations of many efforts by the town to market itself to potential business investors and residents through its branding efforts and the late-June relaunch of the town website at townofwendell.com.
“Having those two elements kind of marry up at the same time is really good,” Rodriguez said after the meeting. “It sends a powerful message that we are open for business, we are trying to be cutting edge and we’re trying move with the times and be proactive.”
The mockups, two signs of differing heights, were intended to test what passing drivers would see. One side welcomed people to Wendell, and the other side thanked departing drivers for visiting. The initial designs were created last year by staff from the Community Design Initiative, a part of N.C. State University’s College of Design that helps rural communities design public spaces.
“I like what I see. I think we all do. We’re excited about the possibilities,” Mayor Tim Hinnant said as Rodriguez concluded the presentation.
A second sign could go up on the wall of a building at 3040 Wendell Blvd., Rodriguez said during her presentation. The building, with an expansive plain end wall facing motorists, also happens to be rented by Randy Broach, whose sign company, Broach Custom Signs, created the median mockups. Rodriguez said Broach and the property owner, Leamon Strickland, agreed to having a sign on the wall inviting visitors to patronize downtown businesses. Broach would provide complementary lettering.
Of course, all of the planning can’t move to reality without money. The recently-adopted town budget included just $7,500 for wayfinding signage.
“The economic development committee has been talking about … being creative in seeking out fundraising opportunities where available,” Rodriguez said after the meeting.
The next step for planners, Rodriguez said, will be to check with the N.C. Department of Transportation to ensure the planned sign would be within guidelines for median placement.