The abrupt removal of the kangaroo-crossing sign on Clinton Heights Avenue last week left Scott Hammond hopping mad, and sent Clintonville into a tizzy over the loss of a quirky landmark.
After city personnel took down the sign March 12 in the 100 block of Clinton Heights, Hammond promptly launched a GoFundMe campaign under the banner "Friends of Clintonville Marsupials" to pay for a replacement.
The ensuing media storm included a story from WOSU-FM, where a reporter took the credit -- or perhaps accepted the blame -- for bringing the sign's existence to the attention of City Hall while researching an article about it.
Former Clintonville resident Ann Miller-Tobin asked the radio station to look into the matter, and the rest is history -- as is the sign.
"I think it's a shame that it was taken down," Hammond said. "It wasn't harming anyone. A lot of people got joy out it. It was something specific to Clintonville. It's down the street from (Clinton Elementary School), and I think that kind of creativity is what should be shown to kids."
The sign, Hammond added, was in keeping with his view of Clintonville as a "hip Mayberry."
"The city was made aware of it," said Jeffrey M. Ortega, assistant director of the Department of Public Service. "It is in the city right of way and is not permitted and therefore was illegal.
"It's a potential safety issue, to have unregulated signs in the right of way," he said.
"In my opinion -- I am hardly the only one -- the sign's removal was a classic case of unchecked bureaucracy," Hammond wrote in an email to Ortega the day after the city spokesman was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch regarding the removal of the large yellow sign with the black silhouette of a kangaroo.
The existence of the sign in the first place was an example of a little nose-tweaking civil disobedience aimed at bureaucracy. Jared Laughbaum told The Dispatch he put the sign up in 2014 to take the place of an orange construction sign that had been left there long after the project was completed, and in spite of frequent requests from residents to have it removed.
"I never expected it would become a landmark of Clintonville, but it's something everyone seemed to enjoy," Laughbaum told The Dispatch.
"This may seem silly to you, but it's not just the sign I'm upset about," Hammond wrote to Ortega. "Things like this are little touches that bring joy to people and make communities worth living in. I've lived in Clintonville for 10 years. ... I travel all over the country and without a doubt this community is the most special place I've ever been to. The sign to me represents creativity and problem-solving that should not only be nurtured, but passed down to children, our future leaders, not stamped out."
"I want that right back up where it was," Hammond told ThisWeek Booster.
And he's got some support -- the GoFundMe campaign, as of March 16, had surpassed its $150 goal by $35.
On the page, Hammond thanked supporters and said dozens of neighbors have shared "fond memories" of the sign with him. He said the money will be used to buy a new, identical sign and post, and that any leftover cash will be donated to a charity that benefits kangaroo conservation.
But right now, the sign's return seems as unlikely as a real kangaroo roaming the streets of Clintonville.
"They need to get approval of the city to do that," Ortega said. "There are regulations as to what kind of signs can and cannot be in the right of way."