Survey respondents have spoken: Belmont Shore is getting its traditional signage back—for the most part, anyway.
After nearly a year of dizzying deliberation within the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission, the majority of 5,364 survey voters picked “Option 3,” which looks like a raised version of the old gateway sign, “Belmont Shore Welcomes You,” the commission announced at its Thursday morning meeting.
“The coloring may change. The size may change, but the theme is going to mimic the traditional sign that has been in The Shore for years,” said Matt Peterson, who chairs the commission. “I’ve got businesses here in The Shore, and I think identity and familiarity is what makes people comfortable.”
Public Works ran the survey on how to replace the old signage from June 16 to July 7. It included four rendered options—red back-lit lettering, white Art Deco lettering, the traditional sign and a jazzed up version of the old sign by local artist Bob Senske.
The runner up was Option 1, the one with red lettering that read, “Welcome to Belmont Shore;” picked third was the Art Deco rendering—which some survey respondents likened to the Miami Vice font—and Senske’s design came in fourth. A smaller chunk of voters also chose Option 5—none of the above.
Most of the respondents were white, between the ages of 26 and 45 and live in Belmont Shore, according to data provided by the commission.
Peterson told the Post that he was pleasantly surprised with the amount of people who responded and engaged with the survey. Of the 5,364 respondents, 1,123 submitted additional comments.
Of those, three different voters who identified themselves as graphic designers condemned the options.
“None of the ‘new’ options are that good,” one respondent said. “Several aren’t even legible. As a designer myself, and a resident of Belmont Shore, I’m disappointed.”
Peterson told the Post that he decided to gather opinions from the community to help move the decision process forward, but ultimately, it was up to the commission to make the final decision.
Many of the voters who chose to comment on the designs said they were in favor of the familiar and all but lambasted the rest.
“#3 clearly establishes Belmont Shore as a seaside community with the nautical feel of this sign,” a voter commented in the survey.
Another voter wrote: “I’m not a fan of unnecessary rebranding. There is a charm of the original design. That being said, [Option 1] is a good design that is clean, unobtrusive and has style. Option 2 looks like Miami font and would look out of place. Option 4 looks like a design for a kids swimming pool, just a terrible look.”
“The community has said they want tradition,” Peterson said, “and we’re going to honor that.”
Using revenue garnered from Second Street’s parking meters, the commission spent about $5,000 in the option-gathering and design process. Now, Peterson estimates that the two signs will cost the commission around $180,000.
If all goes well, the signs will be erected within the next six months, Peterson told the Post.
“We’re past the biggest hurdle,” he said.
But it isn’t over yet. While the commissioners were content Thursday morning with the survey results, there is still a debate left to be had about the sign’s colors, lighting and more.
“Now, we have to work with Public Works,” he said. “We have to work with a sign vendor. We have to come up with the composite material that it’s going to be made of, whether it’s backlit, side-lit, downlit—all these details.”
And, possibly the last contentious detail, how high up it will sit.
The old sign, which formerly sat at the west end of Second Street near Livingston Drive, had been ravaged by termites when it was struck down by a speeding vehicle last year. The idea behind the new signs has long been to raise them high on a tall pole for better visibility.
Aaron Tofani, co-owner of Rance’s Chicago Pizza, said on Thursday that mounting the new sign on a tall pole at the Livingston entrance to Belmont Shore wouldn’t make the sign easier to spot.
“At the other end, I don’t think we need to spend the money to put it up on the pole, because it’s more visible down low,” Tofani said at the meeting, adding that a tall sign pole should just be installed at the Naples-facing entrance to the neighborhood.
Fellow commissioner Jann Kronick-Gath strongly disagreed.
“I’m not in favor of that, I think that will look ridiculous,” she said. “We’ve got to have them married up. They have to look the same. … It’s gonna look absolutely like, ‘What’d they do, run out of money?’”
Kronick-Gath added that placing a sign that low again would run the risk of it being hit by a car once more.
“It’s going to get hit,” she said.
“Everything does get hit eventually,” Tofani said.