Wayfinding Signs Popping up Throughout Downtown
Signs will direct to parking, businesses, and significant landmarks.
Visitors and residents of Ferndale will get some more direction in their lives soon with the completion of the Downtown Development Authority’s Wayfinding project.
The project involves installation of maps of the downtown, historical signs and directional signs that will indicate parking lots and significant destinations like the post office, City Hall and Ferndale Public Library.
The DDA's Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius said the project began in 2006 after consultants determined there was a lack of directional signs in the area.
“They were already recommending something we knew we needed to look at and put on our hit list to get done,” she said. The value of the project is $240,000, half of which is paid for by a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service, which was awarded to Ferndale last August under the condition that the funds would be matched by the city. Sheppard-Decius said the remaining balance is paid from city contributions of $20,000 and DDA funds including a $10,000 staff value and a $55,000 contribution from the DDA fund. The remainder of the required match is contributed in the form of volunteer hours valued at $35,000.
Two illuminated maps of the downtown will include a business directory that will be updated yearly.
“We can remove the business directory listings and replace that component,” Sheppard-Decius said. One will be placed in the pedestrian alley near the southeast corner of Woodward Avenue and East Nine Mile Rd. and the other near the crosswalk on West Nine Mile Rd. between Woodward Avenue and Allen Road. Sheppard-Decius said she believes the maps will aid patrons of the community.
“We have a lot of people that walk in our office and go, ‘Do you know where x-y-z is?’” She said.
As part of the program, 100 historical plaques will be placed throughout the city as well as 10 historical markers featuring Ferndale “fun facts” in the downtown area with information on historical landmarks and developments. Sheppard-Decius said she hopes the history lessons enlighten and entertain Ferndale residents. “When we share that with people they’re kind of amazed, like, ‘Wow, that’s my hometown. I didn’t know that,’” she said.
Candle Wick Shoppe manager Walt Szymborski, 44, said he hopes the maps will allow more visitors and residents to discover the store in its underground location in the Ferndale Arts Building. “We often wonder if we had a storefront, would we be more noticeable?” he said.
Szymborski said the sandwich board sign on the sidewalk and the smoldering incense strategically placed near the street-level window of the store are ways he tries to compensate for the lack of visibility. “We do what we can to draw people in here,” he said. “But the wayfinding signs are really going to be the icing on the cake.”
Dye Salon owner Billy Sandifer, 37, said he has noticed clients new to the area sometimes have a difficult time finding a close parking spot because they are unaware of the lot behind his store. “They don’t know the streets here and the parking’s so hidden,” he said. Sandifer said he thinks the signs will increase the amount of time people spend in Ferndale. He said the business directory could result in a trip to one shop leading to a visit to others like it.
“Then I’ll probably stop to get lunch because I’m going to four stores. I’m going to be hungry,” he said.
On the way to Bangkok Café, Clinton Township resident Aaron Thomas, 31, stopped to comment that he feels the signs aren’t necessary. As a weekly visitor to Ferndale, Thomas said he doesn’t feel he’s overlooked many businesses.
“Because it’s an art community word of mouth is the best advertising,” he said.
Coworkers Jackie Bulat, 45, of Roseville and Ross Hulbert, 46, of Ferndale, said they are in support of the wayfinding project. Hulbert said while walking the street as an auxiliary Ferndale police officer he is frequently stopped by people needing directions.
“I get it all the time. Every time I’m down here in uniform I at least get one person asking me where something is,” he said. Bulat said though she knows the streets of downtown Ferndale well, she’s open to the possibility that there is more to be discovered.
“I might be pleasantly surprised. There might be things here I haven’t seen yet,” she said.