An example of an "octopus" sign in Jamestown, N.Y. made by ID Sign Systems in Rochester.

Gateway Signage Options Presented to Council

February 22, 2024

WARREN, Pa. – “What is Warren?”

It’s a question posed by Doug Hearn, a member of the city’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force.

As a former marketing and branding specialist, Hearn told City Council Monday evening that when narrowing in on a target market for a new product, his team would drill down as far as what kind of chair their customer sat in at night, what show he watched on television, and what kind of dog he had.

That, Hearn told council, is how they should go about choosing signs and markers for the downtown area gateways. And, as he was passing through Jamestown, N.Y., Hearn told them, he found some nice options. Modernizing Warren’s wayfinding signage to draw attention to both historical and commercial “foundations” within the city, Hearn said – and using the same company Jamestown used to make theirs – would offer visitors and tourists a more aesthetic and efficient experience navigating it.

That company is ID Sign Systems, based in Rochester, N.Y.

QR codes on a plexiglass brochure holder allow visitors to scan for a map of wayfinding sites throughout the city.

First impressions are, Hearn told council, everything. While he said that ultimately branding would be developed over time, signage reinforcing whatever brand the city set forth would enhance both the commercial district and the feel for those not from around here. “Are we a river city, or a historical city,” Hearn asked council. Let the wayfinding signage reflect that.

His suggestion after visiting Jamestown to the pros and cons of their experience with ID Sign Systems, was for the city to take a series of steps toward a better wayfinding solution for the city. A site analysis to identify areas for improvement and optimal locations, a community engagement effort to solicit public feedback on the project, and a pilot installation were among them.

An example of a kiosk created for Jamestown, N.Y., made by ID Sign Systems in Rochester.

City Manager Mike Holtz and Director of Codes and Planning Randy Rossey joined Hearn with Jamestown officials earlier this month and, after his presentation on Monday evening, gave him the green light to reach out for a representative from ID Sign Systems to visit Warren and discuss some options and ideas, as well as some costs.

While the project is still early in the planning stages, Hearn said, the potential funding sources are as well. Among potential sources, he said, are the city itself, local charitable foundations, and possibly businesses whose names would appear on the signs. But it’s all, he stressed, still in discussion.

The first thing, said Hearn, is to get a representative to visit and discuss the city’s ideas, and how they match up with ID’s pricing. Ultimately, Hearn said, “The task force feels it’s important to show progress.” Just sitting around and talking about the idea won’t cut it forever. But the first step is to plan things out and that, he said, is what he will be doing alongside city staff in the coming months.

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