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The bland color-and-text palette of recreation-area signage just wasnt sufficient for Marc Andersons vision.
But the young artists graphic sense prevails, in a new series of directional signs coming to island roadways this month.
The signs will point the way to six local parks: Gazzam Lake, Sands Field, Rotary Park, Battle Point Park, Point White Pier, and the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center. Signs will include computer-generated icons representative of each park, complemented by contemporary muted tones.
The worst case would have been just making the signs brown and white, Anderson said, but since the city said I could use color, its been pretty smooth.
A member of Boy Scout Troop 1565 and affiliated with Bethany Lutheran Church, Anderson conceived the project last year to meet the community service requirements for the Eagle Scout rank.
Its not his first venture into roadside signage; Anderson is also behind a series of signs that went up earlier this year marking island streams.
This time, his goal was to guide tourists and others unfamiliar with the island to out-of-the-way parks, using generally text-free, iconographic signage stylized images intrinsic to each park that convey meaning to the viewer.
Among the images chosen are the Battle Point Park water tower, ball players at Sands Field and Rotary Park, and the view of Gazzam Lake through the trees.
Since they arent really entrance signs, they arent supposed to say whats there, Anderson said. If they were at the entrance, you probably wouldnt use the water tower (at Battle Point), because its not Water Tower Park.
Numbering 20 total, the 16-by-24-inch signs will be placed on appropriate roads; a smaller horizontal sign on each post will include a directional arrow.
The son of Bruce and Vikki Anderson his father is a principal in Winslows Cutler-Anderson Architects the BHS junior has taken design classes but is largely self-taught.
He was inspired by noted graphic designer Michael Schwab, who did a similar, highly popular series of iconographic signs for parks in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As Anderson writes in his explanatory notes, such images are universal... No matter what language someone speaks, they know what a restroom sign looks like and what icon depicts a telephone booth.
To select which parks would get signs, Anderson devised a set of criteria including park usage, how far a site is off the main road, and what directional signage already exists.
Then he worked with park district planner Perry Barrett and city public works operations manager Lance Newkirk on sign locations and other standards.
One of the first hurdles: determining how much latitude the artist would have in design and color.
Roadside signage is fairly strictly standardized in a tome known as the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and brown is the long-established color for signs indicating recreation areas.
As Newkirk says, Drivers dont like surprises. If theyre looking for an amenity or a cultural or recreational area, it should have a similar look and feel (to signs elsewhere).
It was agreed that Anderson could make use of several colors, provided each of the designs would appear against a conventional brown background.
With the designs ready for fabrication at a Seattle sign shop, Andersons work is earning high marks.
Its beautiful, Newkirk said. Hes a very talented young man and has a great future ahead of him for graphic artwork, and the community will be equally impressed.
Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District board members were equally effusive in their praise during a presentation on the project last week, joking that the only drawback is the signs potential to invite thievery.
Not to worry; the city will replace signs that are vandalized or stolen, Newkirk said although more than one person has encouraged Anderson to reproduce the images on poster board and make them available for purchase.
Total cost of the project is $2,800; Anderson has raised about $1,600 so far, including a $500 grant from the park district and the citys donation of $600 worth of sign posts.
He was assisted by an advisory committee that included Newkirk, Barrett, and park commissioner Ken DeWitt; Bainbridge Island Land Trust members Karen Molinari, Tom Croker and Wayne Daley; Troop 1565 charter member Vince Mattson; and Chamber of Commerce Director Kevin Dwyer.
Technical assistance was provided by designers Candace Daigle and Kelly Hume.
Once the new signs are ready, Anderson will deploy teams of volunteers around the island to complete the installation.
Presumably, drivers will be able to take it from there.
If they have a general sense of where a park is, it kind of reinforces where theyre going, he said.