Photo By Dick Broom

Signs rub summer folk the wrong way

Photo By Dick Broom
Northeast Harbor’s new wayfinding signs aren’t universally popular.

MOUNT DESERT — A summer resident has launched an online petition asking town manager Durlin Lunt and the board of selectmen to lower or remove some of the new “wayfinding” signs in Northeast Harbor.

Ted Leisenring of Berwyn, Pa., and Northeast Harbor says there are too many signs and that some of them are redundant and much taller than they need to be.

“I really think it’s the result of good intentions, but listening to a consultant,” he said. “If you put up some kiosks and some simple, small signs, people will find their way.”

Leisenring sent an email to fellow summer residents asking them to add their names to the petition. A number of those who have done so also included comments about the signs.

Lindsay Hopkins Weld said, “I wish the signs were more in keeping with the park [Acadia] – unobtrusive and blending in…and there are too many saying the same thing.”

“These signs do not reflect the quaint nature of the village,” added Betsy Block

“Many of the recent new signs have been too large and have disrupted the aesthetic quality of Northeast,” John Leisenring said. “The last thing we need is the beginning of the ‘Bar Harboring’ of NEH.”

To James Francis, the signs “look like they belong on the Maine Turnpike.”

Lunt, the town manager, had predicted that not everyone would like the new signs.

“I think they’re great, but there will be some controversy over them,” he told the board of selectmen in April. “They won’t be universally loved.”

The selectmen unanimously approved the installation of the signs, which are intended to help guide visitors around town and between Main Street and the marina area. But some board members acknowledged that the appearance of the signs is a departure from what the village is accustomed to.

“You look at these signs and you’re thinking, ‘Did we go steal all the signs out of Logan Airport?’” selectman Matt Hart said last spring. “They do have that sort of generic look to them.”

But he said it is important to remember that the signs are not for the benefit of Northeast Harbor residents.

“They’re to help people who are visiting here, which, in turn, hopefully will help us,” he said, referring to the goal of boosting business activity in the village.

Most of the 35 signs approved for installation are now in place. Among the last to be completed are signs on State Route 198 directing drivers to Northeast Harbor. The delay was caused by the Maine Department of Transportation’s rejection of the sign designer’s proposal to attach sign panels to metal posts set in concrete.

State safety standards require that signs along state roads be mounted on wooden posts.

“If struck, the posts will break off, absorbing some of the force of a collision rather than acting as an immovable object,” Mount Desert Public Works Director Tony Smith said.

The signs along Route 198 are mounted on four-by-four-inch pressure treated timbers set in the ground, not in concrete. The timbers are to be left unpainted.

There have been some complaints about the plywood panels mounted on some of the sign posts.

“Those are just place holders used for spacing purposes during construction,” Smith explained. “The sign panels will be replacing the plywood.”

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]