by Terry Rogers
On Monday, August 24, Milford City Council heard a presentation created by two University of Delaware interns regarding new parking and pedestrian signage in the downtown area. The signage is designed to help visitors find parking spaces and for pedestrians to know where they are on the Riverwalk as well as add continuity to the walking path.
“The goal was to find what the issues were with the current parking system,” Samantha Lee, who is studying construction engineering, said. “We wanted the public to find the public parking lots and to help them locate the ones closest to their end destination. Currently, there are 12 parking lots throughout the downtown area, but there is poor directional signage.”
Lee explained that some of the lots had entrances that are difficult to see, such as the one located at the corner of Northeast Front and North Walnut Street, across from the former M&T Bank building. One on Mill Street has a “no outlet” sign and no signage indicating that it is available for public parking. That is also true for a public parking area by the library. Lee also pointed out that the parking lot near the old M&T Bank was old and in need of renovation. A public lot across the river from Park Place has no signs indicating it can be used for parking while the one next to the City Customer Service Office is located at an odd angle from the street and has a “One Way” sign that deters people from parking.
“When we reviewed all of the information, we felt that each parking lot should have a unique name,” Lee said. “We considered tree names, like Maple, Holly or Pine as well as bird names like Finch, Goose or Heron. Another option would be nut names like Walnut, Pecan and Almond. In addition, parking signs need to be installed at intersections with directional arrows that show people where they can find parking.”
The design of the signs presented at the meeting included ornamental signs with a unique name at the entrance to every parking lot in town. Directional signs would be white with green lettering and would have directional arrows that would show visitors which way to travel to find parking. The estimated cost to the City for the parking signage, both directional and ornamental was $1,850.35.
“Another issue facing downtown is pedestrian wayfinding,” Sam Beam, a civil engineering student, said. “There are a few sections of the Riverwalk where it is not clear that it continues. One is on Church Avenue and one is on Southeast Front Street. One method to fix that is to paint images on the ground that indicate the Riverwalk continues. It could be feet, duck footprints or ladybugs.”
There are currently no mile markers located on the Riverwalk which could be an issue should there be an emergency while someone is walking.
“We felt that adding small mile markers would not only be helpful in an emergency, but also for those who are tracking for fitness,” Beam said. “We would place one at the start and then one every tenth of a mile. To mark the entire Riverwalk, we would need 22 markers. We looked at three options which included a solid 6×6 post, small metal plates and coated cedar posts. The least expensive and easiest to install would be the small metal plates.”
The image of the plates was round metal, similar to a thumbtack with engraved numbers and letters. The plates would be embedded in the sidewalk or on posts along the Riverwalk. The cost for that type of marker was $1,145. The cost for the solid posts was $1,604.90 while the treated cedar estimate was $4,364.
“There is also nothing along the Riverwalk that makes it obvious,” Beam said. “We wanted to put up something that is a definitive acknowledgement of where the Riverwalk is, where they are parked, where they are, where other parks are in the area. It would include some “You are Here” symbols and the signs would be located throughout the Riverwalk. We recommend one of those at every entrance to the Riverwalk. The estimated cost for four of those is $800.”
In order to add all the signage suggested in Lee and Beam’s presentation, the cost to the City would be a low of $3,795.35 to a high of $7,014.35. City Manager Mark Whitfield explained that funding could be split between Parks and Recreation and Public Works as signage benefits both departments. A decision on the signage will be made at a future Council meeting and public input is encouraged.