Photo by Deb Jacques A vehicle drives by a newly covered mile marker monument at Van Dyke Avenue and 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques A vehicle drives by a newly covered mile marker monument at Van Dyke Avenue and 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Mile markers get a makeover with messaging

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 24, 2021

 The new mile markers are decorated with keywords from Sterling Heights’ 2030 Visioning Plan’s vision statement, such as “inclusive.”

The new mile markers are decorated with keywords from Sterling Heights’ 2030 Visioning Plan’s vision statement, such as “inclusive.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

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STERLING HEIGHTS — A series of intersection monuments along Van Dyke Avenue in Sterling Heights will soon be presenting a message beyond which mile road drivers are near — the city’s vision of its identity.

In May, workers began installing new fabric on the city’s four mile marker monuments, which stand by Van Dyke’s intersections with 15 Mile Road, Metropolitan Parkway, and 17 Mile and 18 Mile roads.

The 40-foot-tall aluminum and fabric monuments initially went up after a Van Dyke reconstruction project took place in 2015-16. City officials say the landmarks contribute to the city’s goal of adding attractive focal points to promote placemaking and uniqueness.

However, according to the city, the original fabric on the monuments became worn down over time. So during a Dec. 15 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a refurbishing project as part of its consent agenda. The fabric replacement project went to Auburn Hills-based contractor Northern Sign Co. for $28,210, and it was funded in the 2020-21 budget.

The cost covers 16 fabric panels that will cover the four sides of each of the city’s four mile markers. According to concept art revealed in December, the new fabric contains keywords found in the city’s 2030 Visioning Statement, such as “bold,” “safe,” “active,” “distinctive,” “exceptional,” “vibrant,”  “inclusive” and “progressive.” City stakeholders originally picked those words to be part of the city’s 2030 Visioning Plan’s vision statement, which was unveiled in 2014.

In an email, Community Relations Director Melanie Davis said that, when the time came to reskin the monument markers, it was the perfect chance to express the city’s pride in the community.

“The city is proud of our Visioning 2030 Plan. It tells the story of who we are and what our aspirations are as a community, and it is at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make across every department,” Davis said. “Driving past these every day is a great visual reminder of the amazing community we have here.”

So far, resident opinions on the new markers’ appearance have varied.

At the May 18 City Council meeting, Sterling Heights resident and public commenter Kelley Skillin asked the council to consider pursuing an antidiscrimination ordinance for LGBTQ people. But while doing so, she also complimented the council on some of its recent actions advocating for diversity.

“The monument markers now support core values like inclusivity,” she said.

In a May 12 Facebook post on the Sterling Heights City Hall page, other residents and commenters sounded off on the new decorative landmarks. One commenter said that “on the bright, side they look nice.” And another said he was in total support of the project due to its contribution toward making the city unique.

“If there’s nothing unique about our city, then our city is just a commodity,” he said.

On the other side, several critics called the new coverings a waste of money. A couple of people made allusions to The Halo sculpture, calling it by its anal-themed alias. And other comments called the signage “virtue signaling.”

One commenter reported noticing the Van Dyke pillars and said, “It’s action, not signs that make a community welcoming and vibrant.”

“Take other actions with the money,” she said. “Anyone can put up a sign, that means nothing!”

According to a city memo, the city plans to update the milestones’ fabric every two or three years with “creative and attractive art designs.”

For more information about Sterling Heights, visit www.sterling-heights.net or call (586) 446-2489.

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