South Jacksonville continues efforts to draw in people and welcome them to the village.
The Board of Trustees were presented with ideas last week during a Committee of the Whole meeting on a new state-of-the-art welcome sign that’s been five years in the making.
Tourism Committee head Paula Belobradjic-Stewart says that plans have been in the works of putting the sign on the north side of Michigan Avenue: “The sign [project] actually started in 2016, and the original site was going to be on South Main and Michigan Avenue. It was catty-corner from Dairy Queen where it’s the little [HD] Ice location now. Phil Wiegand owned it at the time, and we were going to buy [the location] from him, or rent it, or something because Michigan Avenue is our border. It ended up that it fell through because he had a deal to sell the land and we didn’t want to buy it. Sometimes things work out for the best. Now, we have – Mike [Broaddus] went back with me…well, go back to 2017, Dick Samples and I went to Prairieland and presented to their board the idea of using Prairieland property because they are our biggest event in the village. People don’t know where our border is, so putting a sign on Prairieland property would benefit both of us.”
Belobradjic-Stewart says that a traffic study done back in 2017 determined that the intersection of Lincoln and Michigan is the busiest intersection besides Main and Michigan; so plans are to put the sign at the corner at Lincoln and Michigan, replacing the tractor and possibly moving the fence on the Prairieland grounds so the sign sits unobstructed and in view by traffic.
Belobradjic-Stewart says the sign has been budgeted for by the village for a number of years: “We had budgeted $75,000. This sign is $63,513.01. [Ace Sign Company] told me, that even though it’s been so many years ago, they are still going to honor this price, which really surprised me. I thought the price would go up quite a bit. We raised the allocation to $75,000 because we were talking about doing some kind of landscaping. You just don’t want to throw in a sign and not have it landscaped.”
The new, all-weather sign would have an L.E.D. Display for time, temperature, village and South Elementary events, as well as Prairieland events. Belobradjic-Stewart says that the agreement with Prairieland’s board was not to sell any business advertisements on the sign or its announcements.
With final board approval and any further approval from Prairieland’s board, the project would take between 14 and 16 weeks to complete due to supply chain issues brought on by COVID-19. The sign’s final approval is expected during the village’s next business meeting on Thursday.