Postcards from the edge ... of downtown

Redevelopment Authority unveils designs for proposed banner on Mill Street railroad bridge
by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff


THE RAILROAD BRIDGE on East Mill Street could be wearing these colorful welcome banners by sometime next year. The designs were approved last week by the Redevelopment Authority and the Plan Commission. The top banner would be east side of the bridge for traffic leaving the downtown area, while the bottom banner would on the west side of the bridge welcoming traffic coming into downtown. THE RAILROAD BRIDGE on East Mill Street could be wearing these colorful welcome banners by sometime next year. The designs were approved last week by the Redevelopment Authority and the Plan Commission. The top banner would be east side of the bridge for traffic leaving the downtown area, while the bottom banner would on the west side of the bridge welcoming traffic coming into downtown. PLYMOUTH – A postcard greeting from downtown Plymouth – that’s what the railroad bridge over East Mill Street could become.

The Redevelopment Authority and the Plan Commission both got a first look Thursday at a set of banners that could be mounted on both sides of the bridge just east of Milwaukee Street.

While the RDA endorsed the proposal enthusiastically, the commission had some reservations, but still endorsed it unofficially.

“This is supposed to represent an oldtime postcard design,” City Administrator Brian Yerges said of the banner.

Designed by Retailworks, which developed the display spaces for the Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center, the banner would read “Welcome to Plymouth, WI” on the west side and “Greetings from Plymouth, WI” on the west.

The letters spelling out “Plymouth, WI” are the largest and are cutouts with various images from the city within the outline, including murals, parks and other scenes.

Both sides would feature the city’s official “Cheese Capital of the World” logo. The welcome side ends with the phrase “Enjoy a slice of our life!” while the greetings side reads “Milking it since 1861!”

Yerges explained that, as it is a city sign, it would technically not require Plan Commission approval, similar to visitor direction signs and other official signs.

“The city has never received approval (from the Plan Commission) to put up signage,” Yerges noted.

Still, he brought it before the commission to get their feedback and comments.

An informal poll found two commission members opposed and four in various degrees of support.

“I don’t think you need this there,” commission member Vi Feldmann commented, noting the heavy traffic in the area. “I don’t think it’s a good place for a sign and that’s what it is; it’s not a mural, it’s a sign.”

Commission member Jim Flanagan said he was disappointed that the banner does not have the “Cheese Capital of the World” logo or slogan displayed larger, but added that he supported the concept, just not the design.

Commission member John Nelson agreed with Feldmann that the banners could prove distracting. He also questioned how permanent the banners would be. “It’s too temporary to me,” he commented.

Yerges explained that the banner idea came about after the city learned that it would cost $30,000 or more to paint the bridge.

RDA Chair Lee Gentine told that group that MAS Industries in Plymouth could make the banners for $900, although the city would have to install them.

“We’re trying to coordinate with the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, because ultimately they’re going to have to approve it,” Yerges told the RDA about installing the banners.

“WSOR said this is sort of a unique request,” Yerges said of his contact thus far with the railroad. “They’ve never had a request like this before, so I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of internal discussion on that.”

While the railroad would need to approve the banner, its installation and maintenance would be up to the city.

“If we can get it approved by all parties, my comment would be to wait until spring to install them,” Yerges concluded.


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