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Putting up signs may be a welcome idea in Oldsmar

The city needs markers welcoming visitors, a council member says. Tonight, he'll offer some suggestions and seek support for the proposal.

By ED QUIOCO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2000


OLDSMAR -- Whenever City Council member Brian Michaels drives into a community and spots a welcome sign, he gets a little irked.

Why doesn't Oldsmar have those signs? he wonders.

"Every time I drive into Oldsmar, I say, "Welcome to . . . nothing' because we don't have welcome signs," said Michaels, who spends a lot of time on the road in his job as a field service manager for EGP Copiers in Clearwater. "It does nothing but burn me up every time I drive by a city that has those signs."

Michaels hopes to do something about that. With some help from his wife, Michaels recently spent about 45 minutes coming up with 14 colorful welcome signs using standard software design programs on his computer.

He plans to present his creations to City Council members at a meeting tonight at council chambers, 100 State St. W, at 7 p.m.

Some of the signs have a sailboat floating behind two palm trees. Others depict the sun setting over water or flying birds. Most simply read "Welcome to Oldsmar," but some have additional enticements, such as "Come and play at the top of the bay."

Michaels wants to install the signs at Tampa Road and Lafayette Boulevard, the Canal Park entrance on Tampa Road, Curlew Road on the western edge of the city and State Road 580 and Bedford Street.

Public Works director John Mulvihill said the city has the machines to make the signs, and the cost would depend on the size of the signs and how many colors they have.

Michaels said he created the signs to prove that it wouldn't take much to add a little color to the city's entrances. The signs would be metal, and they would be attached to metal poles.

Signs are a relatively inexpensive way to change the perception of a community and create an identity, said Bob Feild, a state Main Street program coordinator. "There are a lot of people who drive around . . . and don't always know when they are going through a specific community," said Brian Smith, Pinellas County planning director. "Welcome signs help with a community's identity and community pride."

It's time for Oldsmar to gain some of that pride, Michaels said.

"We get thousands of people who drive through Oldsmar every day on Tampa Road, and they don't even know they are in Oldsmar -- and we need to fix that," he said.

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