Welcome banners will be welcome addition

WHAT CITIES STRIVE FOR in their downtown is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

That can encompass many different facets, from the smallest detail to the large picture, but it all adds up to bringing visitors and shoppers to the downtown.

Plymouth has been doing a good job of creating that atmosphere, especially with many recent improvements.

Now there will be a visible sign of welcome that will grace the railroad bridge over East Mill Street at the west end of downtown.

The Redevelopment Authority has received a proposed design for a pair of banners that will hang on either side of the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad bridge to create a colorful welcome greeting for visitors.

The banners were designed by Retailworks of Mequon, the same firm that created the stunning and captivating interior design for the recently-opened and warmly-received Plymouth Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center building.

The banners are designed to resemble old-fashioned greetings postcards that were popular for many years – and still are – and are considered valuable collectibles by many people.

“Greetings from” on the east side and “Welcome to” on the west side leads into the main element of the banner – “PLYMOUTH, WI” in cut-out block letters, with colorful local scenes filling in each of the letters. Those scenes include the Antoinette the Cow statue, several downtown murals, various park scenes, historic buildings and a view of the Mill Street Festival crowds.

Those are all things that bring people to downtown Plymouth – and keep them coming back time and again.

The banner also features the Cheese Capital of the World logo that is also featured on many of the light pole banners throughout downtown. Finally, they invite visitors to “Enjoy a slice of our life” and remind them that the Cheese Capital of the World has been “Milking it since 1861.”

With the approval of the railroad – which we can only hope will come quickly – the banners could go up in spring, in time to greet a summer full of visitors.

There is no doubt that the bridge at the edge of downtown could use some dressing up. It’s been more than two decades since it was painted and that age is starting to show.

It would cost the city more than $30,000 to repaint the bridge, while the banners will cost roughly $1,000 altogether – making the banners a cost-efficient, as well as more attractive, alternative.

The point was raised at the Plan Commission that the proposed banners exceed the city code for size and permanence, which is true.

But those banner limitations were adopted as an answer to commercial banners that were unsightly, left up too long and become tattered and torn.

The railroad bridge banners are not commercial but a welcome sign, like those on major highways at the city’s boundaries, so they should not fall under those rules.

Some on the commission also worried that the banners are too busy and could prove a distraction, but they are much less so than many other signs and items throughout the downtown corridor.

Instead, they add to the glad and inviting welcome to downtown, something everyone should be able to endorse and embrace.

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