To The Daily Sun,
The problem: Main Street Meredith shops are closing, storefronts need renovating.
The hypothesis: The problem is occurring because people can't find Main Street.
The solution: In the name of beautifying Meredith, get the Selectboard to approve the placement of multiple large signs on public property in front of the town boat docks, blocking the lake from view. The two signs, 5 feet by 5.5 feet, mounted on 7-foot posts, will include specific names of 25 Main Street businesses who have paid a fee to have their names on the sign. It will depict a map of Main Street businesses, and send walkers to the area with brochures in hand. The promotion, created, controlled, and maintained by the Greater Meredith Program will be called, "Do the Loop." The fees will also go to the GMP.
A matching large sign will replace the boat launch rules at Hesky Park, blocking out more views, but this will also "beautify" the pristine part of the town's lake area. In addition, tour buses will come into Meredith, stopping at Lake Street and the old Aubuchon Parking Lot, complete with signage that says, "Drop Off" and "Pick Up" and multiple "Do the Loop" signs will be attached to posts throughout the town.
The rationalization: According to the GMP, this will enhance the park area, and despite losing lake views, will allow people to discover the beauty of downtown Meredith.
Lost views will only be a foot higher than a typical SUV taking up two parking spaces.
The other side: SUVs move but signs don't, and during the majority of the year, it is nice to drive through Meredith and see a wide open view of the lake, docks and park. Beauty is a subjective concept and shoving signage down the throats of residents is really not that pretty. Several areas of this proposal also violate Meredith ordinances. The town manager explained that point away by saying that municipal signs do not, by state law, have to follow the ordinances within their municipalities. Taxpayers do have to pony up $15,000 every year to give to the GMP, but that request comes in the form of outside agencies. So, how can an outside agency sign which is completely controlled by the outside agency, now be termed a municipal sign that does not have to follow Meredith Town Ordinances and select, for-profit businesses get to advertise on public land?
How many directional signs to Main Street shops do we need in that area of town? I suggest that everyone take a stroll from the boat docks, through Hesky Park, to the end of Scenic Park, and note the signs, as well as all of the stuff in the park. Also consider the directional signs across the street along the same distance. Now imagine the new crosswalk and the big street light going in by the state, with signage attached to that ... enough already? Plenty of people find Main Street for the annual craft fair and as a shortcut during heavy traffic on Route 3. Perhaps there are other reasons for the problems, like prices or business types?
The bigger issue for me is that three current selectmen have shown favoritism to 25 preferred businesses by giving them advertising on taxpayers' land. Wouldn't it be interesting if the tourist-related businesses outside of this loop formed partnerships and came to the Selectboard with identical proposals? Or, if the service businesses-plumbers, electricians, contractors, real estate agents, car washes, etc. brought the Selectboard the same proposal for their businesses?
In what can only be deemed a show of cronyism, this proposal passed without a public hearing, 3-1 with 1 abstention.
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