Suzanne Waller of the Columbia Association Board of Directors for Town Center has another article and appeal for opinions in the latest Center Fold. This one concerns recommendation for more and/or better signs in Columbia. We like our uncluttered garden city, but businesses are hurting (and so are the people who can't find them). Waller requests that opinions be sent to her at Suzyq1104@aol.com. Following is a copy of my own message to Waller:
Hello again, Suzanne Waller.
I recently wrote to you about the cultural amenities discussion, and now I've seen your article about signs in the latest Center Fold. First a very quick story that you might find useful and funny for future discussion: I heard from a friend about a young couple who moved into Columbia a few years ago. They spent their first two weeks in town eating at fast food restaurants, because they couldn't find the grocery stores. It sounds ludicrous, but I can believe it.
Now that I myself am used to the area after living in Columbia Town Center for about 12 years, I know where most things are and forget how hard it can be to find certain stores and other amenities. Now I must admit that when I'm looking for a new restaurant, the popular HowChow blog run by a Columbia resident in his free time helps me find it and makes up for lack of signs. I personally like our emphasis on trees and lack of commercial signage, but I agee that it would be good to help both the businesses and the people who are looking for them. Just today, as I was walking back from the main branch of the Howard County Library, I was stopped by two people looking for places. One of them was even looking for the library that I had just left, and she couldn't believe that she had missed it while driving by. (I know there is a sign in front of the library, but maybe it's easy to miss from the road.)
I've had other experiences with drivers looking for places that further illustrate how hard it can be to find things in Columbia. Try explaining to someone who has stopped you on Vantage Point Road how to find the nearest liquor store. Or how did someone looking for the Columbia Mall end up driving down Vantage?
More signs or more conspicuous signs would be a good idea now. We can't have our businesses and completely park-like atmosphere, too, but we can be discrete with signs. I wouldn't mind seeing more signs, but for night visibility they should be illuminated by spotlights rather than being done in electric or neon lettering. Certainly, no flashing signs! And no large billboards.
(I'll be copying this into my own blog, which is linked on the Hocoblogs site.)
Our fabulous Lakefront is shown here. There are very few signs, and the blue herons often cannot find the Lake.
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