A soaring stainless steel sign with a sail motif welcoming travelers to Anacortes could be installed before July, according to Chamber of Commerce leaders.
The project near the state ferry terminal, which has been in the works for five years, is now moving quickly following the Chamber’s receipt of $32,000 lodging tax funds approved by the city in late 2017.
“We plan to install a 20-foot welcome sign integrated with a sculptural element that will brand and announce Anacortes as a vibrant, artistic, forward-looking community with a marine heritage and recreational opportunities,” said Jack Darnton, chair of the Chamber’s Beautification Committee.
The existing wooden welcome sign at the International Gateway site at the top of Ferry Terminal Road will be removed. The Chamber is studying whether it can be repurposed.
Next the sign site will be excavated and a concrete base installed. The final construction phase will be installing the sign in the base. Work on the sign is underway.
In all, the project should cost about $55,000, Darnton estimated. The sign itself will cost about $44,000, with additional costs for the base, installation and lighting. A small, secondary sign that will hold banners announcing community events is also part of the project.
In addition to the lodging tax grant, the Anacortes Arts Festival is contributing $10,000, the city $10,000 and the Chamber $3,300. The sign will be gifted to the city after it is installed.
“Support from the city and the Arts Festival has been key to this whole process,” Darnton said. “They’ve helped us is so many ways.”
The sign design came about through a juried process overseen by the Anacortes Arts Commission that began in 2013. A call to artists went out and the jury selected four finalists.
The winning design came from Kevin Pettelle, who operates Soul in Bronze Studio in Sultan, Wash. He has created commissioned pieces for the City of Oak Harbor, the Port of Everett and many other public and private entities.
“Kevin’s experience working with volunteers and his patience and understanding of the public commission process have been invaluable,” Darnton said. “Most importantly he is an outstanding artist who is creating a wonderful piece of art that will reflect our community as it welcomes visitors.”
Following the jury’s choice, the sign design was approved by the City Council, the Arts Festival board and the Chamber. Council members noted the sign’s design makes it attractive for people passing it in all directions - not just those coming up from the ferry dock.
The sign will sit in state Department of Transportation right of way approximately where the wooden sign was sited. DOT has reviewed the engineering work the Chamber had done to ensure the sign’s stability and given the project the go-ahead.
Work on the current phases of the sign project, like so much of what’s been accomplished to beautify the site, is a credit to the Chamber and its partners, supporters and volunteers, said Stephanie Hamilton, Chamber president.
“We are excited to be able to welcome guests to our island getaway in a vibrant manner. As with any project, it takes the community to see it through to completion. I am grateful for Jack for his dogged determination in marching this forward through the many phases, commented Hamilton. “Tim Garrison, Builder’s Engineer, donated engineering services to ensure the sign’s integrity; Tim Fisher, Fisher Excavating, will ready the site for the base; and Vince Lang, Lang Custom Concrete and Construction, has agreed to donate labor to form and pour the concrete base.”
The sign project follows landscaping work and the construction of the Anacortes Sister Cities Flag Pavillion, which was dedicated in 2012.
“We’ve come a long way,” Darnton said. “What was once an eyesore will be a beautiful gateway to our city.”