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April 15, 2009
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Present:        Doug Wehrle (chair), Kevin McManus, Tom Smith, Trustee Liaison Demetra Restuccia, and Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber.

Absent:         Sandy Hardy.

The Board reviewed a veritable avalanche of three sign applications and discussed its recommendation for an appointment to the open position on the Board.

1. Katz & Klein, Attorneys at Law
The Honorable Gerald Klein joined Steve Chester of Signs Ink in presenting plans for a new sign at the firm’s law offices at 1-3 Croton Point Avenue.  As proposed, the sign will be the same dimensions as that of the previous tenants, measuring 15 feet long x 2 feet in height.  The names “Katz and Klein” would appear in 10-inch high white letters against a black background, with “Attorneys at Law” in 3-inch high uppercase immediately below.  It would be a stencil cut sign, with only the white lettering visible when illuminated.
VEB Discussion:
  • In general, the Board spoke approvingly of the design, with the principal reservation being that the typeface was “stretched” to fill the horizontal space, thereby distorting the letters.  Board members also suggested that the thin white rule separating the two tiers of text should only run the width of the attorneys’ names, and not beyond.  
  • Tom Smith suggested that the attorneys’ names could appear in all-uppercase to make them prominent, though in no event should the letters be stretched.  He also mentioned Copperplate as a possible font for the words “Attorney at Law.”
  • Discussion expanded to touch on two other issues concerning the site.  Doug Wehrle encouraged Mr. Klein to speak to the building’s owner about upgrading the quality of the plantings in front of the building.  In addition, members agreed that,  in light of the planned replacement of a second sign displaying the building’s street address, that sign should be upgraded to match the style and tone of the law firm’s sign.
VEB Recommendations:
  • The plan is for Steve Chester to present Mr. Klein with alternative designs that reflect the Board’s suggestions before moving ahead with fabrication and installation of the sign.
2. Purple Monkey Ice Cream
Mr. Chester also presented plans for the Purple Monkey Ice Cream shop that will occupy the former Curves storefront at 171 South Riverside Avenue in Croton Commons.  As proposed, the back-lit sign would measure 13 feet long x 22 inches high.  The words “Purple Monkey” would be spelled out in two tiers of 7-inch high red letters on the left side of the sign, followed by “Ice Cream” in uppercase red lettering measuring16 inches tall.  The right side of the sign would feature the image of an ice cream cone.  Mr. Chester explained that the choice of red for the text reflects a restriction imposed by the landlord to encourage a consistent appearance among the different signs in Croton Commons.
VEB Discussion:
  • Members agreed that the use of red lettering for a business named the Purple Monkey was incongruous and strongly urged Mr. Chester to explore the possibility of presenting the name in purple.  
  • In addition, they suggested that the picture of an ice cream sign on the right side of the sign should be replaced with the company’s purple monkey logo, which could appear on the left side of the sign.  This would be followed by the two-tier “Purple Monkey” name in purple and the words “Ice Cream” in a rounded font—perhaps Helvetica rounded.
  • Given the likelihood that the business will add a neon sign in the storefront window, the Board suggested that would be an appropriate place for the image of an ice cream cone, perhaps with some purple included.
VEB Recommendations:
  • The Board expressed its hope that the landlord will agree to the installation of a sign that, while in keeping with the tone of other signage in Croton Commons, will also serve to express the particular “personality” of the business.
3. Lukoil
The Board reviewed a sign proposal for a planned Lukoil gas station that will replace the existing Sunoco station at 336 South Riverside Avenue.  The design materials, produced by Pro Signs in Pennsylvania, reflect the standard specifications for signage set forth in the company’s style book while also meeting requirements under Croton’s code.
VEB Discussion:
  • Members commented on a few aspects of the proposed signage that, in a perfect world, they would like to see changed.   These included the proposed freestanding sign and a sign designating the station’s “Mini-mart.”  However, members agreed that these were minor items that would not get changed and it would be pointless to devote further consideration to them.
VEB Recommendations:
  • The VEB approved the signs as presented.

4.  Discussion of Excessive Speeding in the Village
Following up on a topic that had arisen in recent email exchanges, members discussed the problem of speeding cars in areas of the Village, including Cleveland, Old Post Road North and South, Truesdale, and Mt. Airy Road.  Members agreed that the most effective approach would be a direct appeal via letter to the Mayor and the Village Board requesting more aggressive enforcement of speed limits (“zero tolerance”) throughout the Village.

5.  Discussion of Village Signage
The Board expressed its dismay at not being given the opportunity to review new signs erected by the Village, including those for the Municipal Building / Police Department and a new welcoming sign that recently sprouted at the northern entrance to the Village, near the A&P.  Members emphasized that there is little reason for the VEB to exist if the Village itself does not submit signage for review.

In a related manner, Doug reported on his conversation with the Mayor about plans to devise a system of wayfinding and informational signage to organize the current ad-hoc approach for situating traffic, parking, directional, and other types of signs.  The intention would be to create visually cohesion while hopefully providing better information for both residents and visitors to the Village.  The Board will be considering how best to tackle this assignment.

6.  Discussion of the Open Position on the VEB
In a discussion of several possible candidates whose names have been submitted for appointment to the VEB, members voted unanimously to recommend that Valerie Leis be offered the open position.  Valerie, who has served on the Board in the past, brings a range of talents and interests to the VEB’s work.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p. m.