New Albany Parks Foundation: Intersection of nostalgia and streets signs raises $11K

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
(Clockwise, from upper left) Brian Smith, Adam Beckman, Jessica Cappuzzello and Kristen Pietro hold up old streets signs from the city of New Albany. The New Albany Recreation and Parks Foundation auctioned signs and raised $11,000. Smith is superintendent of the New Albany Parks and Recreation Department and a member of the foundation's board of trustees. Beckman also is a trustee, Cappuzzello is the foundation treasurer and Pietro is the secretary.

New Albany’s old street signs will be put to new use by many of the city’s residents. 

Brian Smith, superintendent of New Albany Parks and Recreation Department, said the New Albany Parks and Recreation Foundation auctioned off more than 500 signs between April 7 and 20, raising $11,000 for a number of ventures. Bidding started at $10. 

Paula Trybus, a local resident, bought a total of nine signs, some that will be repurposed and others reserved for future graduation gifts. 

“It’s triggered by nostalgia,” Trybus said. “We’ve lived in our home for almost 20 years. Our kids are growing up and leaving and starting their new lives and I thought this would be a gift for them.” 

The idea to sell the old street signs started after New Albany officials installed new signs over a three-year period ending in 2020, city spokesman Scott McAfee said. The replacement project cost about $150,000, he said. 

The Ohio Department of Transportation, following federal government standards, came up with different requirements for municipal sign colors, McAfee said. 

New Albany had been using green signs with reflective lettering and dark signs with white lettering. The city chose to change to white backgrounds with black lettering to make the signs easier to read, McAfee said. 

City officials theorized that, for sentimental reasons, the old signs could be sold and repurposed. 

The foundation, a nonprofit group formed last October, reached out following a request-for-proposals the city put out earlier this year. 

“We wanted to assist a local charitable organization in fundraising,” McAFee said. “And we didn’t want to coordinate the effort. We wanted to have one organization that would manage getting rid of the signs. 

“The parks foundation basically won and they were given all of the signs,” he said 

Buyers gave multiple reasons for their purchases, Smith said. One young man bought four – representing the number of addresses his family has had in the city – which he was going to turn into a collage for Mother’s Day, he said. 

“We heard a lot of different stories because we were asking them at the time,” Smith said. 

Smith, also a member of the foundation’s board of trustees, said the organization has continued to sell the signs and has roughly 125 remaining. 

The foundation funds facilities, projects and programs, so Smith said the money will go, for example, toward the Michael Lucey Memorial Basketball Court, named after a New Albany High School senior who died last August, and the Miracle League of New Albany, a sports center to accommodate children with special needs.  

gseman@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekGary