Visual Environment Board Minutes 04-21-2004
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Present:        Doug Wehrle, chair; Marianne Bosshart, Valerie Leis, Kevin McManus, Ross Weale, and Trustee Liaison Leo Wiegman.
Absent:         Planning Board Liaison Ted Brumleve, Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber.

The April meeting of the VEB included consideration of one sign application and discussion of another, followed by discussion of the previous week’s interviews with four possible designers for the Village logo.

1. Hudson Deli & Café
Michael S. Turco, one of the new proprietors of the Hudson Deli & Café at 8 Old Post Road South (formerly Tricia’s Kitchen), came before the Board to discuss the signs proposed for his business.  As described in the application, he plans to place signs measuring 32 x 24 inches in the two glass plate windows facing the street; these signs, which fall within the limits permitted under code, would bear the store’s name in a mix of fonts, with a large calligraphic ampersand.  Mr. Turco also plans to mount 8-inch black acrylic letters bearing the words “Hudson Deli & Café” on the 9-inch high panel running above the air conditioners on the façade.  This is lower than the former Tricia’s Kitchen sign, which measured 8 by 2 feet and occupied a space on the upper section of the façade.  Mr. Turco has removed the old sign and painted the wood exposed beneath it white; he has also painted the trim around the windows white, as compared to the former green.  The application included a number of digital photographs showing the storefront with and without the proposed new lettering.
VEB Discussion:
a.      In response to a question regarding how the main sign would be mounted, Mr. Turco explained that the acrylic letters will be snapped onto fittings screwed into the wood.  He did not show the Board a sample of the lettering, so it was not possible to judge their depth.
b.      Mr. Turco confirmed that the sign will not be illuminated.
c.      VEB member Marianne Bosshart recommended that Mr. Turco reconsider the font he is planning to use in the main sign.  Noting that the words “Deli & Café” in the window signs appear in a serif font, she urged him to use a similar typeface for all the words in the principal sign.  She and other Board members further encouraged Mr. Turco to use a calligraphic or italic ampersand on the main sign similar to the one that appears in the window signs.  The goal is to make the sign more distinctive, readable, and attractive.
d.      The Board also noted Mr. Turco’s plan to replace the awning that can be extended to shade the front of the store; when so deployed, it will help to hide the two air conditioners mounted on the façade.  This was agreeable to the Board; VEB member Valerie Leis suggested further that the awning should be beige or some other color that would complement the brick facing, not red and white stripes as described in the application.

VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board recommended approval of the new sign with the suggestion that it be produced in a serif font with a decorative ampersand, as noted above.

2.  Carmen’s Unisex Salon
The Board reviewed the application for a new sign for Carmen’s Unisex Salon, which will occupy a storefront at 364 South Riverside Avenue.  No one attended the meeting on behalf of the applicant.  As depicted in the two images submitted as part of the application (one showing a portion of the building in question, and the other the sign itself), the plan is to mount a maroon-colored awning sign on the existing frame.  The awning would be 120 inches long and 23 inches high in front; the side panel is described as being 30 inches wide and high, though a penciled notation indicates that the projection would only be twelve inches “as per zoning requirement” (see VEB discussion, below).  The upper case “C” in “Carmen” would be ten inches high.  As shown in the application, the front of the awning would also display the telephone number and the words “Unisex Salon.”
VEB Discussion:
a.      In regard to the application itself, Board members Ross Weale observed that the photograph included in the packet showed only one section of the building to be occupied by the salon, making it impossible to evaluate the proposed sign in context.  It is necessary to have at least one image showing the building’s entire façade.
b.      Board members were unanimous in pointing out that the proposed awning sign is crammed with too much information, and as a result is unattractive and not especially functional.
c.      At the same time, Marianne Bosshart noted that the cursive font selected for the word “Carmen’s” is not legible, particularly from a distance.  The apostrophe used in the illustrations appars not to be in the same font as the letters that spell out the name.
d.      VEB Chair Doug Wehrle queried the penciled notation on the application that a projection of 12 inches is required by zoning.  In fact, the code for C-2 commercial districts allows a 36-inch projection, and the 30-inch projection shown in the illustration falls within that.
e.      Although not visible in the photograph supplied with the application, members recalled that the Croton Florist awning next to the new store actually consists of a small awning over its entrance as well as a larger one over the display window.  They suggested a similar treatment of the salon in order to encourage greater symmetry, to mark the store’s entrance more clearly, and to provide a means of reducing the amount of information clutter contained on the single sign as proposed.
f.      Overall, the Board judged the sign to be uninventive and only minimally effective in serving its principal function:  the communication of information and a positive first impression of the business inside.  The need for higher-quality signage is especially important given that the building housing the salon is perhaps the most attractive on South Riverside.

3.  Evaluation of Designers Interviewed in Connection with Logo Project
Members continued their discussion of four designers and firms who appeared for interviews the week before:  Anthony Russell of Russell Design and Barbara Wertheim met with the Board on Wednesday, April 14th, and Parise Marketing and Design and Elton Robinson were interviewed on Thursday, April 15th.  The VEB was extremely impressed with all four candidates, each of whom would bring a wealth of experience and ideas to the logo project.  Discussion centered on such issues as the designers’ approaches to design, what special expertise each might contribute to the process of creating a logo, and how each could be expected to work with multiple Village constituencies in arriving at a final design.  Doug Wehrle assumed responsibility for delineating a process by which the VEB would consult with the Planning Board and Village Trustees on selecting a final candidate and settling on the scope of work and fee arrangement.

The meeting adjourned at 10:35 p.m.