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New Electronic Community Sign Flickers to Life Downtown

Message board at corner of South Water Street, Haymaker Parkway will promote city and university.

City officials hit the switch on downtown Kent's new electronic community sign Tuesday to start sending messages to drivers and pedestrians at the intersection of South Water Street and Haymaker Parkway.

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said electricians powered up the message board Tuesday morning.

"We spent the day testing different messages and photos of Kent to see how it looks on the big screen," he said.

Ruller's executive assistant in the city manager's office will manage the sign and its messages.

"We're experimenting to see what looks good on the screen," Ruller said. "After a couple of hours of working through options I feel like we've started to get an idea for how quickly to cycle messages and what types of graphics work best. We're looking to keep it simple but also professional, attractive and informative."

Construction of the sign cost $92,000 and was split between the city and and Kent State University. Cleveland-based firm Brilliant Electric Sign Co. built the message board.

The sign will promote events and messages for both the city and university.

Initially messages on the board will only be related to events that the city or Kent State are affiliated with or directly sponsor.

Words and images that flashed on the board's first day of operation included "Welcome to Kent" messages and congratulations to the Kent State Golden Flashes' historic football season.

Events sponsored by the city that you can expect to see promoted on the sign will include Downtown Innovative Community Events, via Standing Rock Cultural Arts, Main Street Kent and Kent Area Chamber of Commerce events.

In the future, the sign may be adapted to include messages for any of the city's several service groups, such as the Kent Lions Club.

"Until we have some experience with managing this process we would like to avoid putting ourselves in situations where we say 'no' to one group but 'yes' to another without some clear policy explanation," Ruller said.

"I think we'll be able to cover just about all of the typical community events that occur downtown, and with everything going on at the campus we'll have plenty of functions to post," he said.

David Reith January 09, 2013 at 05:53 PM
I must be the only person in town who thinks this is a total waste of money. City council can spend $45,000 of this, lend, i.e., give, a fellow council member $30,000 for a piece of junk (sounds like a conflict of interest to me), but they have no money to fix sidewalks???? Council members cannot even dress professionally for meetings. And a former candidate for mayor cares only about cleaning sidewalks for businesses downtown.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! January 09, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Welcome to Kent.
i love doughnuts January 10, 2013 at 02:32 AM
yet another example that kent is quickly becoming the leader of bad taste. a statue or other monument to the city's history would have been aesthetically better - but the tacky few who make these decisions think a sign like this makes our town quaint and charming. TAKE THAT CHAGRIN FALLS, WE GOT IT FIRST!!!
Ronald M. Aurand Jr. January 10, 2013 at 11:33 PM
I see where their coming from as far as information. But otherwise it it looks tacky. Were Kent Ohio, Were a city brimming with visual artists and we could come up wit a fountain or a work of art to welcome people to the city? no we come up with an led nightmare... i didn't know we were turning into vegas.
William Gibson January 14, 2013 at 04:00 PM
I'm all for the sign but the excecution is poor. The electronic sign appears to be stuck on to an unfinished/underdeveloped structure and conflicts with its surroundings--namely the giant building directly behind it that is well thought out with resolved design details. It looks like the project ran out of money--a project that should have a finished and stately appearance. The architectural review group seems to normally do a great job with their important mission but this thing must've flown under the radar. I'll eat my words if in fact it is unfinished at this point.

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