The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 14, 2013

New street signs coming to historic districts

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— In an effort to make Athens’ three historic districts more identifiable and more charming, approximately 10 new streets signs will be erected at key intersections in the districts.

City Planner Mac Martin, a member of the Athens Historic Preservation Commission, said commissioners voted this week on a design for the signs, which will list the street name and the correlating historic district. The signs, which will look different from typical street signs, could be erected in the fall, on antique-style posts.

“We are really trying to enhance the feel of the districts and help those traveling into or moving into the districts to discern whether they are in a historic district while also giving the districts more of an identity,” Martin said.

He said the effort mirrors the city of Athens effort to create a brand for the city by highlighting and identifying special places and events through the use of signs.

Commissioners chose a sign design Tuesday following a presentation on signs by city GIS Coordinator Micah Cochran.

“Micah showed us what other communities are doing so we could do something similar to that,” Martin said.

Commissioners discussed a couple of designs and, by the end of the meeting, voted on the one they preferred, he said. The next step is to find a design for the decorative posts for the signs.

As for the cost, commissioners had already decided at their annual meeting to set aside $5,000 for the signs and poles, which are expected to cost about $500 each, Martin said. “$5,000 would get you 10 intersections, and the primary focus will be on major intersections to, in a way, to Clinton, Washington and Forrest streets in the Beaty District, Market and Jefferson streets in the Houston District, and Hobbs and Pryor streets in the Athens College District.

The eight-member commission is empowered by the Athens City Council to consider certificates of appropriateness for exterior changes to structures within the city’s historic districts, to conduct studies of historic structures, and to request designation of new historic property and districts.

The group is often confused with the Limestone County Historical Society, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote an interest in local history.