Welcome signs going up in Amherst

  • Three signs welcoming visitors to Amherst will soon be installed as party of a so-called wayfinding system that has been under development for the past decade. Submitted Photo

Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 02, 2023

AMHERST — Three signs welcoming visitors to Amherst will soon be installed as part of a what’s known as a wayfinding system that has been under development for the past decade.

The Zoning Board of Appeals last week approved having one of these signs go on private property along Northampton Road near University Drive.

Planning Director Christine Brestrup, who has been coordinating the project, said the 31-by-61-inch sign will be placed on a sliver of land along the state highway that is part of the One University Drive South mixed-used property, owned by developer Barry Roberts.

That welcome sign was initially going to be in the state right of way to the west of Route 9 and University Drive, Brestrup said, but the ongoing rebuilding of Northampton Road forced its relocation to the private land.

“Because of the construction, we decided to move it away from the far side of that intersection,” Brestrup said.

The Zoning Board had to give permission to Roberts so the free-standing sign will be on his property in place of a sign that would be associated with the mixed-use building. The building has apartments on the upper two floors and an office for Eye Physicans of Northampton on the ground level.

Fabricated by W.S. Sign Design of Springfield, the welcome sign will have a dark shade of red with “Amherst, Massachusetts” written in white letters, with the words “welcome to” and the town’s seal in a dark shade of orange. Below the main sign is a smaller yellow-green sign that points ahead to downtown Amherst. The aluminum sign will have attached aluminum letters and be held up with aluminum posts.

Brestrup said the other two welcome signs will be at the intersection of Triangle and Main streets, already approved by the Zoning Board, and the intersection of Amity Street and University Drive, which is in the town’s right of way.

The latest signs will be put up five years after the first elements of the wayfinding system were placed in the center of the roundabout at Triangle and East Pleasant streets.

In 2018, Town Meeting approved used $90,000 for signs, interpretive kiosks and directional panels. That followed from a $10,000 state grant through the Downtown Initiative Program in which Favermann Design of Boston developed a family of signs and offered technical assistance, and then worked with the Amherst Business Improvement District and Seth Gregory Design of Northampton to come up with designs.

Brestrup said the welcome signs have been a long time in coming.

“It seems like everything takes us 10 years to get done,” Brestrup said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.