The difference between here and there is but a single letter.

The difference between here and there is but a single letter.

The difference between Clintonville and its adjacent neighborhoods is sometimes just as seemingly inconsequential - in some instances, barely noticeable signs and in other places, no signs at all.

A subcommittee of the Clintonville Area Commission's planning and development committee is working on ways to let people know: Here is Clintonville, there is someplace else.

"I think it's important that any visitor to the community feel like they've arrived somewhere," said Mary Rodgers, fresh off heading the CAC's election committee and now in charge of the gateways project.

She is being assisted in the task by Brett Warner.

Clintonville has between eight and 10 of these significant "gateways" between bordering parts of Columbus, "depending upon who you talk to," according to Rodgers.

Signs that welcome visitors and returning residents to Clintonville exist in eight locations, but two of those on the Indianola Avenue corridor are missing. None of the existing notification signs are attention-grabbers, the subcommittee chairwoman feels.

"I would describe them as easily missed," Rodgers said. "I don't think they provide that sense of arrival.

"It's nice to say welcome to Clintonville. I think that's a great message, but it's easy to drive right past it and not know you've made a transition."

The only exception to that, Rodgers went on, used to be the one at North High Street and Arcadia Avenue in the vicinity of Clintonville Portal Park. However, that sign has deteriorated over the years and, because it technically isn't even in Clintonville but instead is within the boundaries of the University District, might not be saying the same thing if it is refurbished, the gateways subcommittee leader said.

Some gateways into Clintonville, to further complicate things, are lost amid the "visual clutter" of many other different signs, Rodgers said. A lot of people have complained about that to Rodgers, and she wonders if somehow all those different messages could be consolidated into a single cohesive sign.

"At this point, the planning and development committee will be talking about a proposal to call for artists to provide design thoughts on gateway structures," Rodgers said last week.

"What we're trying to get across to the artist in our call is that it needs to be unique in that all of the gateways are the same but it needs to be scalable because not all are the same size."

Rodgers feels that these gateways from other communities, as well as attempts at differentiating one section of Clintonville from another, can help in better marketing the neighborhood.

"We really haven't done a lot of marketing of the community," Rodgers said. "It's hard to program a five-mile strip of linear roadway. It's going to be a lot easier for us to create districts."

By the same token, the subcommittee chairwoman pointed out, it would be easy to go overboard in terms of differentiating one section of Clintonville from another.

"You could have gateways to the ravines," she said. "There are thousands of gateways."

"Clintonville is such a large area with so many different little pockets," fellow committee member Warner wrote in an e-mail, expressing his personal views on the subject. "I think it's important to find ways to knit it all together, and gateways are one way of doing that. Gateways can help us build a sense of self as a community by marking our turf, so to speak. And the more strongly people identify with Clintonville, the more people care about their neighborhood and want to help improve it.

"I think that is our ultimate goal."

Once some suggested designs for signs are on hand, Rodgers anticipates taking a selection of them to residents in a series of meetings to obtain their views on not only the physical appearance but also what they should contain.

Funding to erect the gateway markers could come from a variety of sources.

"There are funds for historical marker programs and there are funds for beautification projects," Rodgers said.