A new sign initiative recently launched by the city of Upper Arlington seeks to further notify residents and businesspeople about proposed developments, as well as roadwork and planned public projects.
On Dec. 24, city workers posted a "Ready for Change?" sign at the northeast corner of Lane Avenue and Northwest Boulevard, directing residents to a website to receive more information about plans for a 2-story Ohio State Bank at the site.
It's the first of what could be many such signs to come, as commercial development is proposed or as the city plans for road construction or park projects.
"Hopefully, it will be impactful and eye-catching," said Steve Schoeny, city manager. "Whenever we've got something going before BZAP (the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning) or someone's proposing a demolition or we're proposing a study, the team (consisting of the community-affairs staff and Schoeny) has designed some new signs that are about double the size of your standard real estate sign.
"They'll be for anything where we're looking for community input."
Historically, the city has sought to notify and inform residents and other stakeholders about proposed developments and ongoing projects through its website, email newsletters and emails.
It also broadcasts information via social media, print newsletters and, in some cases, mailings to residents in an immediate area of a project or study.
Schoeny, an Upper Arlington resident who lived in the community 13 years before becoming city manager Sept. 30, said the sign initiative is the product of brainstorming with the city's Community Affairs Division to enhance communications between the city and residents.
He also acknowledged that mailings and emails can get lost in the shuffle.
"People live busy lives," he said. "They may not focus on it. They may not realize, 'Oh, that's where that is.'
"So sticking something in the ground that says, 'This place is in line for some change,' hopefully, will attract people's attention and get them to give us some input. We're not legally required to do this. This is just kind of reflecting as a resident, daily life, what does it take to get my attention on something."
Schoeny said the initiative is a pilot project and officials will evaluate its effectiveness by the responses it solicits.
Emma Speight, community-affairs director, said she didn't have final expenses for the initiative but called it a "small investment" and added the signs' posts can be reused.
"This was an idea brought forward by our new city manager, Steve Schoeny," Speight said. "We were discussing all the channels of communications already used by the city to inform residents on special projects and new developments, yet despite our extensive efforts, we still often hear from residents that they didn't know about an issue until the public-review process was almost or already completed.
"The thought behind this is to have a noticeable sign at the site of a prospective new development or project in the hopes that residents would then visit our website to learn more about what is being proposed early in the process."
Speight said the goal is to have signs posted in the public right-of-way about two weeks before a public meeting would be held on the related proposal.
Signs will be customized for specific projects, with information about public meeting dates. Speight said some could include website links to more information or online surveys.
"We are hoping to reduce or even eliminate cases where residents in the vicinity of a project state that they were not aware that something was being proposed," she said. "It's a good-faith effort on our part to reach residents where they are to let them know when something is up for consideration.
"Hopefully, this will further strengthen our communications program and have a positive impact."