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Call For Artists to Design New Entryway Sign

The Gulfport City Council is asking artists to enter their ideas and designs for the sign after citizens expressed concerns over the design submitted by the Waterfront Redevelopment Advisory Board.

After more than an hour of discussion Tuesday night, the Gulfport City Council agreed to accept idea and design submissions from artists for a proposed entryway sign at Clymer Park.

City Manager James O’Reilly will put out a call for artists to design a sign. Artists will be given 45 days to send in their ideas once the call is published.

At council members' request, O'Reilly said he would add a line explaining that Gulfport artists would be given priority. The submissions will be reviewed by the city council and possibly discussed at a future workshop.

Artists are to incorporate the following themes in the design as agreed upon by the Waterfront Redevelopment Advisory Board.

  • The use of art
  • The development of a theme that can be used throughout the Waterfront Redevelopment District
  • The use of sailboats, particularly a regatta theme
  • The use of “Gulfport Historic Waterfront”

The city council is taking over the design process because citizens and artists voiced their concerns after the unveiling of WRAB’s sign design at the May 26 city council workshop. The architectural drawing included a new sign structure about 20 feet in diameter featuring three sails labeled with the attractions of the city within a water fountain.

What does WRAB think?

During last night’s meeting, WRAB member Bill Esielionis said the all-volunteer board spend two years from discussions to hiring an architect to illustrate a sign concept. He said the current sign at Clymer Park is “a complete waste.”

“A sign that’s not seen is worthless. Gulfport could really use an iconic sign, whether it’s this exact one or not,” he said, referring to the WRAB's sign design.

WRAB members Bob Newcomb and Mike Baggs both agreed they are not disappointed in the city’s decision to start searching for a new design.

“We weren’t married to the plan at all. ... We all understood it would be changed,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb said a primary push for WRAB to make a decision and approve a concept design was because they thought they would lose the money available if they didn’t use it.

“We acted to save the money. Primarily, we were given reason to believe the money wouldn’t roll over the fiscal year,” he said.

Chairwoman Lori Rosso writes in response to last night's meeting, "I’m glad that the Gulfport Artists are engaging, that’s what we wanted from the start. We need signage, if it has the blessing of the art community, fabulous."

The Current Sign

Also during last night's meeting, Council member Sam Henderson brought up the idea of restoring the current sign and moving it to the north side of Gulfport Boulevard South so it could be seen by westbound traffic. 

Vice Mayor David Hastings said that if he had to vote on a sign last night, "I would vote to keep the sign the way it is. ... We have other parts of the city that we want people to visit, other than the Waterfront Redevelopment District. ... That's only a small piece of Gulfport, that's not all Gulfport."

Public Input

Artist Jonathan Schok said he was asked by Amy Oatley and Lynn DiVenuti with the Industrial Arts Center to come up with a new sign proposal. Schok presented several handouts to the council and said, "What we're trying to do here really is to create something that's not just branding for Gulfport, which is important; we want to create something that's exciting. What I'm offering here, I hope, is the first step to creating that atmosphere in Gulfport."

Resident Dan Stevens asked the council to consider spending the money to "build a permanent structure that goes over that road ... possibly have something that you absolutely can't miss."

Resident Lee Stapella said, "I'm opposed to the sign at this time. Why the rush to get a sign now? ... It would be best to apply to Main Street Florida." Stapella added that the money is better spent on picking up the phone to Main Street headquarters in Tallahassee and finding out the process. "They have the experts to help the city," Stapella said.

Resident Margarete Tober said, "I do think this should be a joint effort for our artist community and business community."

If you missed it:

The video from last night's city council meeting will be added to the city's Web site sometime today.

Danie Huizenga July 20, 2011 at 08:05 PM
l don't know that Galleries should still be on the sign but l would like to see these considered: Shoppes (spelled this way), Industrial Arts Bldg. playground, doggie park, Pavillions, Historical Society, 'fishing' added to Pier, Boat docks and/or Marinas added. Maybe even consider: B & B Accommodations, Yacht Clubs, Bocce Ball Danie Huizenga
Danie Huizenga July 20, 2011 at 08:08 PM
l also think the sign needs to be Two Sided.......heading west to add: next left under the Waterfront district arrow......this way it can be seen going both ways.
Pat Dunham July 21, 2011 at 03:41 PM
I agree that it is imperative that the sign be seen when driving by in both directions but not sure if it should be two sided. If it is big enough and eye catching, properly placed it can be seen anyway. Also I don't agree that every single emenity be listed like dog park, bocce ball, etc. because it will too crowded and must be seen by people rushing by at 35 plus miles an hour who are watching the road and the cars next to them.
Mr. Fish July 21, 2011 at 04:49 PM
I fail to understand why we need a new sign at all. Wouldn't the money be better spent by the Waterfront Redevelopment Board on Butt receptacles and more trashcans down town so we don't have to look at the items that should have been thrown away properly instead of on the ground?
Danie Huizenga July 22, 2011 at 07:18 PM
l see your point.....really just threw them out for 'consideration' as we don't have many galleries anymore... and with the 'best 6' the focus is more on Food lately anyway. Another possibility which would be nice......to have 3 signs.....one on 53rd mentioning a couple ie; City Hall, Doggie Park, Pier/docks etc. on 53rd st., pavillions, bocce, community ctr. on 58th and the regular ones at Beach blvd...... Just food for thought....
Danie Huizenga July 22, 2011 at 07:21 PM
True, we really do have a nice sign that a little paint could freshen up.....but as the City is considering a new one.....wanted to throw out my thoughts on the matter. We did have lots of trash cans....where did they go?

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