Union Square Park Sign Redesign Plan Panned as 'Too Midtown' by Board

By Jill Colvin on December 9, 2011 8:02am 

The signs would be mounted on park features like lampposts.
The signs would be mounted on park features like lampposts.
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Union Square Partnership

MIDTOWN — A bid to overhaul the signage in Union Square Park was panned this week by local community board members, who said the proposed design was "too Midtown" for their tastes.

The Union Square Partnership came before the board for approval of a $58,000 plan that would cut the number of signs in the park in half and replace the existing mix of notice boards, lawn signs and perimeter banners.

The new, uniform plaques would be affixed to lampposts and fencing, and would feature large, colorful "Wayfinding" maps, regulations and "fun facts" about the park.

"The idea here is to simplify the signage system and make the park a little more user-friendly for everyone who comes in," said Seth Taylor, economic development director for the Partnership, who presented the C & G Partners plan.

The Partnership had intended to submit its plans to the Public Design Commission for review next week, in order to have a prototype installed by the summer.

But members of Community Board 5's parks committee slammed the proposal, complaining the new design didn't look like it belonged in the park.

"These new sign designs make me very sad. They feel very commercial-looking," said board member Robyn Hatcher, who said the rectangular shape and cold lines reminded her of the type of sign she'd see on 34th Street or Madison Avenue.

"This looks like a Midtown sign," she said, urging the designers to come up with something greener, earthier and more in keeping with the park's history.

"This reminds me of the 34th Street Partnership. There's too much," board member member David Golab added.

The committee unanimously rejected the proposal, adding that while they support the idea behind the project, they'd like the new signs to feature a "less Midtown, more Downtown" design "that includes recognition of the traditions and history of the square."

CB 5 members also urged the partnership not to remove the park's central bulletin board, which the board often uses to post announcements.

Taylor appeared taken aback by the criticism, taking studious notes as the members complained.

"Certainly I'll bring those concerns back to the designer," he said.

Shane Kavanagh, a spokesperson for the Union Square Partnership, said later that the group plans to "incorporate [the board's] suggestions into the next draft of the plan" and now intends to submit the project to the Public Design Commission early next year.

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