Temporary library banners fan sign debate in Grosse Pointe Farms

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 8, 2019

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Signs have been the subject of extensive debate in Grosse Pointe Farms, and the Grosse Pointe Public Library recently found itself engaged in this discussion.

In an effort to catch the attention of more residents and encourage increased library usage, library officials approached the city about installing four temporary banner signs — one that was 45.5 square feet and three that were 25 square feet — on the Fisher Road side and the Kercheval Avenue front, respectively, of the Central Branch, at 10 Kercheval Ave.

Because the signs exceeded the city’s allowable maximum of 24 square feet in area and 4 feet in height, library officials needed to appeal city administrators’ denial of their sign permit with the City Council. But despite acknowledging the tasteful nature of the signs — created by Stuart Grigg, of Grigg Graphic Services Inc. — several Farms officials weren’t comfortable with the number or size of the banners.

“I don’t disagree with you that Stuart’s done a wonderful job with the design … but who’s next (with a request like this)?” Mayor Louis Theros asked during a Dec. 10 City Council meeting.

Mary Ann Short, marketing and programming coordinator for the GPPL, said they were asking to have these signs professionally installed and displayed during January and February.

“We’re basically launching a refreshed brand for the library and a new website (Dec. 17),” Short told the council.

She said they planned on installing these signs at all three locations — the Ewald Branch in Grosse Pointe Park and the Woods Branch in Grosse Pointe Woods — and said officials in the Park and Woods had already approved the signs.

City Councilwoman Sierra Leone Donaven asked why the library was seeking three signs on the front of the building.

“That seems excessive to me,” she said.

Short said that was because this was the largest and most visible side of the building. The signs were also spaced out and placed between windows.

“We’re just trying to create as much awareness as possible,” Short said. “We’re just concerned that one won’t have the impact we need because they’re so small.”

Theros noted that the library already has a prominent permanent sign — the name on the building — and he contended that the banners constituted “pure advertisement.”

GPPL Director Jessica Keyser acknowledged that the Central Branch is the most well-known of the three branches, but she said some residents don’t know where the branches are located, or that residents in any of the Pointes can use any of the branches.

“Having consistent branding at all three buildings is going to contribute to this awareness,” Keyser said.

City Councilman John Gillooly said he was in favor of the library’s proposal.

“I think the graphics on the banners are good … They’re well-done,” he said. “They’re tasteful. They’re placed appropriately.”

But Donaven argued that “one (sign) on each side is more than enough” to meet the library’s goals.

“I think it’s a slippery slope,” Donaven said. “I think we would have more people coming in saying they need more signs, temporary or permanent.”

Theros and City Councilman Peter Waldmeir said they worried that churches in the Farms would be among the entities asking for additional signs if the library was granted permission for the banners.

As a compromise, the council voted unanimously to allow the library to install one banner sign on the Kercheval building frontage and one on the Fisher side of the building, with the condition that the signs could be displayed no longer than two months.