By Karen Kenney
I wanted to bring to your attention the feedback the Sign Bylaw Committee has received thus far regarding movable freestanding signs. While Great Road and other areas have not been inundated with these signs, due to families away on summer vacation and businesses' reduced work schedules, we have received some "not so good feedback" otherwise known as complaints. There have been no comments/complaints regarding Open-for-Business flags.
#1 complaint is the signs are tacky and unprofessional, making the center of Bedford look tacky or cheap. This comment has been directed at wire-frame signs that are being stuck into the ground and metal-frames signs, not A-Frame type signs. If you are using one of these signs please make them look more professional or use an attractive A-frame sign.
#2 Black Block is getting most of the flack. Residences and businesses don't know where the property lines defining the private and public property are located. If you are confused get in touch with Chris Laskey. He is the town's Director of Code Enforcement (781-275-7446). Chris has been up at Blake Block several times explaining the do's and don't. But for some reason tenants keep doing what they want. If you are a tenant there, please remember resident are watching closely and not following the rules may bolster their opposition to these types of signs when it comes to vote at Special Fall Town Meeting.
All sandwich board signs are supposed be in by 8pm. Please tell your manager or employees to bring them in by 8pm.
If you are real estate broker who uses moveable freestanding signs (especially the wire frame signs) with direction to open houses, please be sure not to block the intersections. We have residents complaining that they are having trouble crossing the street due to these signs. These signs are already permitted by the Sign Bylaw and are not part of temporary exemption, but they must still follow the rules already in-place and not be placed where they impede pedestrians or create a public nuisance. Remember SAFETY FIRST!
I think most of us have forgotten what these signs are for. To help small business get more visibility, which helps the businesses' bottom line, which in turn allows them to pay their taxes and hire more employees, making it a WIN-WIN for everyone. There are concerns that if this Sign Bylaw amendment is not approved at Town Meeting, some of these businesses will not make it in Bedford.
I, too, don't want to see Great Road become a cluttered mess. But, if we could all please stop and think about the impact you could be making on your fellow businesses by notfollowing the guidelines. If you put out a tacky sign, or you leave it out day after day, you are hurting the folks who are following the rules. Remember you don't need to put it out every day. But isn't it nice to be able to put out a sign with new promotion or event? That is the intent.
Dana, from Prince Street Café, says her sign has increased her business so much she has hired two employees. And is getting about 5-15 new folks a day. All of them saying, "I never knew you were here." In her case the sign is working.
Besides Dana, who else is seeing an increase in business? I need your numbers. Are you getting more business each day? Did you hire new employees due to an increase in volume? Please send me your figures. I need to share with the Committee and the Selectman that it is working. Email your results, as we get into September keep collecting these numbers, and keep sharing them with me. (Karen@organizingworks.net)
Our biggest challenge to address for this to pass is figuring out how we are going to enforce it? Chris Laskey is already very busy with all he does for the town. If it passes, it will drastically increase his responsibilities. To help the town and Chris we need to some enforcement ourselves.
We ask if you see at a neighboring business not complying with the guideline, to please let them know they not following the rules. If you have employees, tell them they must follow the rules. Landlords please do the same. Can you help your tenants follow the rules, point out the private and public property where the signs are allowed on your property! Help eliminate the confusion!
Our next meeting is August 29th, 7:30pm, at Town Hall. The Selectman will be holding a Public Hearing on September 3rd, where the committee will present our recommendations for Sign Bylaw amendments. We also have a meeting scheduled for Sept 5th, also at 7:30pm at Town Hall, where we will likely be addressing comments received at the Selectman hearing. Please consider attending the Selectman's hearing on September 3rd.