By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 12, 2014
Killing two birds with one sign
It turns out a block-letter “Hamilton” highway sign faces some pricey road blocks.
City councillors officially pulled the plug Monday on a fast-tracked, $230,000 effort to build a “civic gateway” along Highway 403 that would be ready in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Cost-leery councillors learned fabricating the metal sign would probably only cost $40,000. But design and archeological studies, road-building for access, utilities and traffic management could pump the total beyond $230,000.
City manager Chris Murray also said it isn’t worthwhile soliciting donations for the project until detailed cost and design information is available.
Gobsmacked councillors referred the report to the 2015 budget debate, but gave staff permission to use up to $36,000 in reserve cash to do geotechnical and design studies on a Highway 403 site near Old Guelph Road.
Detailed project costs will be considered as part of 2015 budget discussions.
Councillors initially supported an online “#time4sign” campaign spearheaded by local pundit and public relations expert Laura Babcock, but later balked at the high price.
A similar block letter Stoney Creek sign erected years ago cost close to $300,000, noted area Councillor Brad Clark.
“We can’t rush this,” said Clark, who suggested council has been “flying by the seat of our pants” in pushing the project for a Pan Am deadline.
“I appreciate the desire to get it done quickly, but I’m not sure we can.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Meanwhile, the storied City Motor Hotel sign has come down — for now.
The city will dismantle and store the tarnished, towering sign “with the hope of resurrecting it sometime down the road,” said ward Councillor Sam Merulla.
Merulla said the vintage sign is an important piece of Hamilton’s history, but added it will take some work — and possibly up to $50,000 — to restore.
There are no concrete plans to reuse the sign, he added, “but we’re looking.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
LETTERS to the EDITOR
Hamilton welcome sign (Editorial cartoon, July 12)
Graeme MacKay’s cartoon is just plain brilliant. Thank you to him for thinking outside of the box and for the great suggestion for the use of the old City Motor Motel sign.
Why not restore the sign at a cost of $50,000 instead of the proposed $200,000 plus, plus for a Welcome to Hamilton sign? A welcome sign has been needed for years and we still do not have one. How difficult can it be?
Hamilton is a unique city and this sign would be perfect. As shown in the cartoon, it looks like the right size, and positioned on the pillars, it looks like a big H. I love the arrows directing tourists to our wonderful city.
Hey, City Council, you gotta love it. Look at the money you would be saving the taxpayers and actually recycling for better use.
I can’t wait!
J. Campbell, Hamilton
City Motor Hotel sign (Editorial cartoon, July 12)
We know the City of Hamilton has other challenges, yet Graeme MacKay’s editorial cartoon offers a bright idea, one not so far-fetched — the maintenance, preservation-in-place and reuse of the city’s neon signs as 20th-century historical artifacts and pieces of art. Consider Hamilton’s neon signs as a reflection of a modern “coming-of-age” for the city.
In Colorado, Denver’s 26-mile long Colfax Avenue, known as one of the longest commercial streets in the U.S., has a glimmering array of neon signs, the earliest installed in the 1930s. Advertising local businesses such as motels, auto shops and ice-cream parlours, 12 of them are on Colorado Preservation’s list of endangered places.
The city of Burnaby, B.C., has purchased and restored several neon signs considered “rare civic heritage landmarks,” including one from an iconic hamburger stand. My guess would be that many area residents would miss the Hutch’s-on-the-Beach neon sign if it was changed to a different style. Recently it was announced that the Sam the Record Man sign will be reinstalled on the side of a university building in downtown Toronto.
Here’s a thought — maybe the City of Hamilton could use the City Motel’s neon sign as a welcoming sign where it is currently located or a new development or business could reuse the sign. By considering such signs in a different light and frame of time, we can create ways that existing businesses could keep them in use and new businesses can coexist with these “old” signs rather than lose such signposts from the urban landscape.
Marsha Paley, Burlington
From Scott Thompson, CHML, July 14, 2014
We all know the history involving the saga of the Welcome sign for Hamilton.
Some well-meaning movers and shakers in town thought it would be a good idea to have a sign ready for the 2015 Pam Am games.
Little did we remember this was all dealt with over a decade ago but nothing was ever done by council to complete the project. Surprised?
Now the mad dash to get something up in time, may prove fruitless as more consultation has to be done.
Forget about a stadium, we can’t even get a sign up in time for the games.
Although one aimless councillor thought the old City Motor Hotel sign was worth saving so it can be restored.
The councillor lamented it’s a piece of Hamilton history and wants it stored to be resurrected again.
Really, I thought we were trying to rid ourselves of the run down, derelict, backwards city image.
Seems some at council still refuse to get out of the past.
Perhaps like Spec cartoonist Graeme MacKay captured in his weekend drawing, maybe the City Motor Hotel sign can be retrofitted and used as a Welcome to Hamilton sign.
I’m Scott Thompson.