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Published: Tuesday, 2/23/2010

Sylvania events to gain some flash

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania soon will have an electronic sign with full-color graphics at a downtown corner to promote community events, but a city councilman was quick to note last week that it won't be nearly as big as similar signs used elsewhere in town for advertising.

"I don't want us to confuse this type of sign with the one over on 23 for Kia," Mike Brown said before council's unanimous vote to approve spending $21,400 for the electronic sign made by Watchfire Signs, of Danville, Ill., and to be provided locally by Harmon Sign, of Sylvania Township.

Mr. Brown's reference was to a bright electronic billboard at the Taylor Kia dealership along U.S. 23/I-475 near the Central Avenue interchange in Sylvania Township. It has been the target of complaints from motorists citing its brightness and potential for distraction.

But Taylor complied with a recent order from the township's zoning office to lengthen, from 8 seconds to 20, the interval between message changes, and a company spokesman said its sign displays public-service messages as well as advertising.

Compared with Taylor's 390-square-foot sign, the city's will be puny - just over 23 square feet - and embedded in a squared-off oval proclaiming "Welcome to Sylvania" above the electronic screen. It will be posted on the northwest corner of Main and Monroe Streets and will face southeast, standing on a spot now occupied by a wooden signboard over which the city drapes promotional banners.

"It will be an electronic version of what we have now," Mayor Craig Stough said, except that the new sign will be capable of showing a sequence of messages and will eliminate the need to produce banners for each event.

Messages will change with a slow, scrolling motion rather than flash as advertising billboards do, the mayor said.

Framing around the sign will give it an appearance similar to that of other "wayfinding" signs the city will erect this spring throughout downtown to direct travelers to local points of interest while eliminating a hodgepodge of existing signs.

City officials plan to develop a formal policy about what sorts of messages may be displayed on the sign.

Todd Milner, chairman of city council's streets and safety committee, said he plans to consult with officials in Lincoln Park, Mich., about how they control a similar sign there and urged his colleagues to make similar inquiries as they see fit, "so we don't have to reinvent the wheel."

The sign will be controlled from the mayor's office, Service Director Jeffrey Ballmer said.

Also during its meeting last week, city council approved providing up to $18,500 worth of police time to the Jamie Farr-Owens Corning Classic golf tournament. The maximum is slightly higher than what the city provided last year "in case there's an extra day or something like that," Mayor Stough said.

Before last year, the tournament reimbursed Sylvania for its event-related police expenses, but, because the slumping regional economy had cut into the tournament's sponsorships and revenue, city officials agreed last year to decide year by year whether to waive such reimbursement.



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