By Rebekah Martin
The Opelika Planning Commission heard from Pam Powers-Smith at Tuesday’s meeting about a project that Opelika MainStreet has had in the works for some time. The project aims to bring new signs to the historic downtown area.
The proposed signs – designed to direct tourists toward restaurants and other attractions – for phase one are designed to be 48-by-44 inches and would be located where Second Avenue intersects the following: Eighth Street, Ninth Street, Sixth Street and Avenue A.
“MainStreet has zero dollars for this project so we’re desperately trying to raise money for these signs,” Powers-Smith said. “The tourism bureau graciously gave $35,000 toward phase one.”
Powers-Smith said there is no timeline in place yet for completion, but phase one will be completed as soon as she has met with all the appropriate people. “Phase two will only happen if we are able to raise the rest of the money,” she said.
Phase two of the signage project would bring smaller signs to Railroad Avenue and beyond.
“We realized that downtown was quickly becoming a destination for people coming in from out of town,” Powers-Smith said. “I was answering questions every day from people who wanted to find a business or restaurant and were not familiar with the area. From that, the idea to have these signs installed was born.”
Commission chairman Keith Pridgen said he is in favor of the project. “I know if I am walking around an area in Panama City or Birmingham, it’s really convenient to have a notation saying ‘MaFia’s is this way.’ It’s nice to be able to get your bearings if you are from out of town,” Pridgen said.
The signs would also point pedestrians toward Opelika’s historic markers, such as the courthouse and city hall. Depending on the funds raised, churches and businesses on the outskirts of the downtown area might be able to be added.
The commission approved a number of issues that they will recommend to the city council and heard from two citizens during public hearings.
The meeting was unique in that normally a work session is held to discuss the issues in detail and a separate voting session is held a week later. In observance of Thanksgiving next week, the commission combined the two meetings Tuesday and will not meet again in November.
The commission will meet again Dec. 2.