EDMONDS — The “Welcome to Edmonds” sign has worn out its welcome.
It’s time to replace the painted wooden sign that has stood more than 40 years at the junction of Edmonds Way and Fifth Avenue South. The brown sign with a ferry sailing on blue water toward mountains marks the gateway to downtown.
Repair is no longer an option for the weathered, peeling landmark.
“It’s cracking pretty bad. We have fixed it up quite a bit over the years, but it can’t be fixed up anymore,” said Carrie Hite, the city’s parks director.
Funding is in place. A nine-person committee was formed. Now all that’s needed is a design that residents can live with.
That’s the hard part.
“There is so much passion around it,” Hite said. “They want it to be welcoming and quaint and charming, but they also want to recognize that we are moving into a different sort of generation and time period.”
People can critique design choices at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Edmonds Library, 650 Main St. An online open house with the designs will follow.
The city hired Clayton Moss, of design firm Forma, to work with the sign committee. Forma has done signs for the Hazel Miller Plaza and other places in Edmonds.
Moss first came up with a sleek sign with lighting last summer, which some people didn’t like.
“They thought it was too modern,” Hite said. “They wanted to stick with the old design, do a replica. So it was enough of a conversation we decided to hit the pause button and take a few steps back and engage more community members.”
Moss then created prototypes of a post-and-panel sign, similar to what is there now, along with a monument design and a banner style.
These were shown at an open house in January. A previous online survey drew several hundred responses.
“People weighed in,” Hite said. “And since that time Clayton has redesigned it and added different colors and fonts. Some are similar, but there is quite a bit of difference as well. Our goal is to get feedback and see if there is a design that really pops.”
Hite said other things will factor in. “One criteria is for people to see the sign coming from Fifth Avenue or going to the ferry. We’ve played around with re-landscaping a place closer to the median. We might go with a metal or a composite material that weathers better than wood. We’ll see what people come up with,” Hite said.
Wednesday’s meeting will also have a design submitted by old-school sign painter Mack Benek.
“He wanted to put his hat in the ring. I said, ‘Well, we hired Clayton already and he’s going to design it for us. But you can bring it to the open house and have the community look at it,’” Hite said.
Benek, whose hand-painted art is on buildings and signs around Puget Sound, crafted an idea after he was approached by a local business owner.
“I took elements from the old sign,” Benek said. “But I make the ferry coming into Edmonds rather than leaving it.”
Benek is pitching a classic sign with engraved and gold-leafed letters, made of cedar to pay homage to Edmonds’ lumber mill history.
“I compare it to a book cover,” he said. “The title should have some punch and pizzazz. That’s what I want to do, get people excited about coming to Edmonds. It should sell the city, not just announce it.”
Another open house is planned in March. The final design will go to the City Council for approval. The hope is to have the new sign up by mid-summer.
“We have a budget of about $10,000,” Hite said. “I don’t know if that will be enough. If it isn’t, it will go to the council for more money.”
The money is from the parks department capital budget, she said.
“At the end of the day, you come up with something that you hope most people like and can live with and are happy because they were involved in the process,” Hite said.