Visual Environment Board Minutes 09-21-05
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Present:        Doug Wehrle, chair; Valerie Leis, Kevin McManus, and Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber.

Absent:         Trustee Liaison Leo Wiegman.

The September meeting marked the VEB’s first formal session to consider sign applications since June; with no applications submitted in the previous two months, the Board instead gathered to discuss progress on logo implementation with designer Elton Robinson (in July) and to meet a potential new member (in August).  New business for September included sign applications for two new businesses in the ShopRite strip shopping center and discussion with two more potential candidates to fill positions vacated by Marianne Bosshart and Ross Weale.

1. The UPS Store
Stuart Matel of Westchester Sign Co. appeared before the VEB to represent UPS on behalf of its national design firm, the Illinois-based Icon Identity Solutions.  The proposed sign would fill the existing space that held the sign of the former tenant, Croton Natural Foods, with UPS’s standard design.  This consists of the words “The UPS Store” in white mixed-case lettering 12 ½ inches in height against a “poppy red” background, followed by an 18 ¾ inch high UPS shield in “sunflower yellow” against a “deep mahogany” background.  A thin vertical stripe of yellow separates the two background colors.  The entire sign runs the 16 ft. ¾ inch length of the store and would be 27 inches high.  Like other stores in the shopping center, the sign is painted on white acrylic backlit by internal fluorescent lighting.
UPS also proposed mounting a smaller sign with “The UPS Store” and shield in brown on a white background in the pylon at the entrance to the ShopRite parking area.
VEB Discussion:
a.      Echoing concerns voiced when Subway proposed its nationally standard sign at the northern end of the strip mall, VEB members were concerned about the lack of uniformity along the row of signs and their possibly jarring impact.
b.      Board member Valerie Leis noted that the application was incomplete in that it did not include samples of the actual colors proposed for the sign.  The colors presented on the images submitted with the sign do not accurately represent what is being proposed.
c.      In response to the suggestion that the sign might be customized to become more consistent with contiguous signs, Mr. Matel explained that in his experience the UPS offers two designs:  non-illuminated channel lettering for those signs with no internal illumination, or the style presented for the Croton store given the type of sign there.  The company’s goal is to maintain a consistent visual and brand identity.
d.      VEB Chair Doug Wehrle and fellow board member Valerie Leis expressed their preference for the channel lettering, which is more refined and features lettering on a white background.
e.      Members had no concerns about the smaller sign proposed for the pylon.
VEB Recommendations
a.      While recognizing UPS’s preference to use the standard design created by its national consultants, the VEB asked Mr. Matel to explore the possibility of a sign better suited to the local context.  The preference would be something more along the lines of UPS’s proposal for the pylon sign—in this case, the words “The UPS Store” appearing in the poppy red lettering against a white background, with the shield in brown next to it.
b.      Mr. Matel agreed to pass along the recommendation and took Doug’s email address, promising that he would hear within a matter of days from Icon or someone at the UPS itself.
c.      The Board withheld approval of the sign as proposed pending receipt of this message.
Upon receipt of a boilerplate response from the UPS stating that the company “will not and has not ever deviated from our specified brown, red, and gold color when utilizing the UPS® Shield,” the VEB approved the sign as presented at the September 21st meeting, noting that the proposed sign is in compliance with existing code and is likewise generally in keeping with the sprawl-style built and visual environment of the ShopRite strip mall.  In doing so, the VEB notes with disappointment that the UPS’s “national signage standards and specifications” should so easily take precedence over local preferences.
2. Goju-Te Karate
Peter Doherty of Carmel appeared before the board to discuss the proposed sign for his new business, which has taken over the space formerly occupied by J.Y. Moon Taekwondo.  The sign, which was designed by Signs Ink in Yorktown, would consist of the words “Goju-Te Karate” all in uppercase in red vinyl lettering against the white acrylic background, with all letters (except the slightly larger “J”) being 18 inches high.
VEB Discussion
a.      Valerie Leis pointed out to Mr. Doherty that the (unidentified) serif font proposed for the sign would be difficult to read; for example, the right ascender of the “U” is just a thin line and would essentially disappear when the sign is viewed from an angle.
b.      In addition to suggesting that Signs ink utilize a different font, members suggested that the sign would be more legible if the words “Goju-Te”—which denote the type of instruction provided—appeared in smaller letters, perhaps 12 inches high.   The word “Karate” could remain 18 inches high, making it approximately the same size as the UPS shield next door, and it could remain in upper cases to make the business more readily identifiable.
c.      Members also suggested that the red lettering used to spell out the name should match the cherry red to be used in The UPS Sign next door.  In subsequent discussion, however, members agreed that the best course would be to pursue a design that more clearly differentiates the new business and its identity.  Accordingly, Doug suggested to the designer via email that dark blue lettering would allow the sign to stand out without conflicting with other adjacent colors.~ Further, the VEB suggested that the sign might combine this with a yellow background—the same Sunflower Yellow that appears in the UPS sign—to create a more distinct and readable sign that would at the same time coordinate smartly with the UPS sign on the one side and the Subway sandwich shop sign on the other.
VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board asked Mr. Doherty to have the Signs Ink representative email a copy of the revised sign to VEB members, with the goal of providing expedited approval so that he can get the sign in place.
b.      The members wished Mr. Doherty well in this new venture.

3. Discussion with Prospective Members of the VEB
Board members conducted a wide ranging conversation with two prospective members of the VEB, Tom Smith and Sandy Hardy, for possible recommendation to the Mayor to replace Marianne Bosshart and Ross Weale.  Members of the Board had previously spoken to a third possible candidate, Robyn Kaminsky.

The Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.