GREEN – A marketing concept to brand the four bridges spanning I-77 within the city has been put on the shelf for now by City Council.
By a 5-2 vote, with outgoing term-limited Councilmen Jim Colopy and Dave France in favor, council denied a $74,250 contract with OHM Advisors to create a concept for the branding that would be an economic development tool and also give Green a more public identity.
Branding is featured in Stark County on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Bridge spanning I-77 in Jackson Township. Both sides carry the same message as well as lighted railings and NFL artistic designs.
Mayor Dick Norton, who strongly supports the concept, told council before the vote, “To not take in this is a little short-sighted. It is clearly part of our business expansion and job creation, which we need to do.”
He said the city is always going to be concerned with the cost of infrastructure, and the city is going to need marketing tools to grow its revenue to support infrastructure today and in the future.
At-Large Councilman Chris Humphrey and others questioned the timing of the project and where it fits on the priority list with other projects like storm water reduction and road and other infrastructure construction.
“I like the concept, I like the idea, but I don’t like the cost,” Humphrey said, referring to the initial fee for drawings and design, which may never come to fruition due to the actual cost of branding that had been suggested to be $330,000 or more per bridge.
The bridges involved are at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport, Wise and Graybill Roads and state Route 619.
Ward 3 Councilman Ken Knodel suggested putting the issue on the back burner for later consideration.
Ward 2 Councilman Dave France voiced opposition to branding the Wise and Graybill Road bridges, saying he would like the first bridge branded to be at Route 619. He urged doing the bridges in phases rather than all four at once.
Norton said that he would start with the airport bridge and brand the borders. There were suggestions that Akron-Canton Airport trustees might participate in the airport bridge branding.
Ward 4 Councilman “Skip” Summerville noted he had no phone calls when council raised water rates, but he has had several calls on this “and they were all flack.”
Norton contended this is the perfect time to begin branding, while At-Large Council Gerard Neugebauer suggested that 2017 might be the time when the city’s streetscapes are coming into place.
“I think we will come back at a later date,” Mayor Norton commented afterward. “There will be an election this year and we’ll have some new members, and then we’ll read the tea leaves and see where they are at.
Sometimes it takes people a little while to grasp the wisdom of the vision,” he said.