Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2003

Highway signage should emphasize Eudora’s uniqueness

May 1, 2003

Recently in this space, we asked the Eudora City Council to reject calls to amend the city ordinance banning signs on Kansas Highway 10. We took the position out of preference for nature uncluttered by commercialization and with the view the city would be better served by embracing the forward-looking possibilities voiced by the K-10 Association, which developed the standards along the route.

Certainly Eudora shouldn't be asked to live by stricter rules than its neighbors on the corridor. More disconcerting is the rate the Kansas Department of Transportation charges businesses to place ads on its blue informational signs. The $1,150 annual cost puts them beyond the means of many local businesses, certainly those of the mom-and-pop variety. Those businesses that can afford to announce their presence on KDOT signs would probably be franchises to national chains.

KDOT's rates and policies would only seem to encourage the kind of strip development that is a feature of many freeway interchanges, and so expected motorists hardly need notification of their presence. It is also counter to what Eudora should emphasize. That is, the features and qualities that make it unique, be they one-of-a-kind rarities or charming anachronisms fast disappearing in the country's race to uniformity. Those are the things that would get travelers off the highway and downtown. They are also the draws that would entice visitors back.

The danger of opening signage to local businesses is that it would have to extend the same privilege to those from out of town. And the kinds of features that make Eudora attractive don't lend themselves to splashy advertising as well as more commercially tested competition.

We suggest the city only tweak the signage ordinance to put highway businesses on equitable footing with those in, for example, De Soto, while moving forward with a professionally designed single sign that announces Eudora's best and unique qualities.

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