St. Helens residents may have noticed a few new signs installed along city streets this past week.
City of St. Helens Associate Planner Jenny Dimsho said crews have also placed an information kiosk at City Plaza. The signs and kiosk are designed to point to key city landmarks, guiding curious visitors and residents around the city.
Three of the new wayfinding signs have been placed at the St. Helens Market Fresh (formerly known as Red Apple Market), the Columbia Funeral Home, and on the corner of Columbia Boulevard and 1st Street.
According to Dimsho, the three locations were chosen because Columbia Boulevard is a priority route to get people from the highway to the downtown portion that is by the river, a section of town Dimsho said is not often visited.
“We heard a lot of feedback from people who didn’t know that there was a second downtown off the highway, people who have lived here for years, and were trying to promote that route,” Dimsho said.
The signs are the “vehicular signs,” or wayfinding signs meant to guide people traveling by car through the city. There will be an additional 20 bicycle/pedestrian signs installed throughout the Houlton and Riverfront District in the summer, according to Dimsho.
The signs are being placed by Ramsay Signs and are still under construction for installation as part of a larger project - the Branding and Wayfinding Master Plan, finalized in 2017, which is funded in part by two Travel Oregon grants. The most recent grant is a $75,000 grant that the city is matching with in-kind costs and cash, Dimsho said. A previous grant for $40,000 was also awarded through Travel Oregon in August of 2016.
The vehicular signs, bicycle/pedestrian signs and kiosk mark Phase 1 of the project. There will be another phase that will include signage that will provide an alternative route to the Riverfront, guiding vehicles from Gable Road all the way down Old Portland Road. According to Dimsho, this second route is a collaboration between the master plan and the riverfront plan, with the master plan dictating what the signs look like, and the riverfront plan addressing where to put the signs on the second route.
“At this point, there’s not a funding source for that, and then we’ll write another grant, so there’s no set timeframe, but we do have a route already identified for Phase 2,” Dimsho said.
Numerous city plans have identified the need for better signage, from the Sustainable Tourism Plan (2007), to the US 30 and Columbia Blvd./St. Helens St. Corridor Master Plan (2015), according to the City of St. Helens website. The goal of the wayfinding signs is to increase traffic to the three business districts within the city, most notably the Riverfront District, according to Dimsho.
The installation of the three current signs and kiosk will be complete when they will have basalt base veneers added to them that will match the look of the County Courthouse and City Hall buildings. Dimsho said city planners are looking at samples of veneer to ensure the aesthetic appeal of the signs, and that the signs will be finalized within the next few months.
Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.