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Twp. looks to Orion to help pay for new gateway sign

by CJ Carnacchio

July 17, 2013

This is the design Oxford Township officials previously decided to use for the new gateway signs. If Orion agrees to share the cost of the sign along its border, the other side would welcome visitors to the community "Where living is a vacation."
Oxford Township officials are hopeful that Orion Township will help cover the cost of a new sign that would welcome visitors to both communities.

If everything gets approved, the gateway sign would be placed in the center median that divides M-24's northbound and southbound lanes at or near the Oxford-Orion border.

"The Orion Township Board was very enthused so much (so) that they started a subcommittee . . . to work with Oxford Township to figure out the best path forward," said Todd Bell, chairman of the Oxford Township Planning Commission and a member of the Economic Development Subcommittee.

Last week, Oxford Township officials voted 7-0 to spend up to $5,000 to have their engineer and representatives from both townships investigate placing this gateway sign in the middle of M-24 and report back to the board with their findings.

That amount also encompasses having design work done related to the placement of a welcome sign on the west side of M-24 at or near Oxford's northern border.

Oxford officials have $20,000 budgeted for new signage.

The decision represents a reversal for Oxford officials, who back in April, approved a motion for the southern gateway sign to be located on the east side of M-24, not in the center of the road.

Orion's willingness to potentially share in the cost appears to be the reason for Oxford's change of heart.

"If it's on the side of the road, Orion Township doesn't want any part in it," noted Oxford Township Trustee Jack Curtis.

Designed through Main Street Oakland County free of charge, the sign (shown above) consists of three main elements 1) a step-like feature to resemble the historic stone railroad bridge, built in 1891, that runs over Indian Lake Rd.; 2) a monolith, made to look like stone, to symbolize the township's long history of gravel mining operations; and 3) a beam connecting these two elements that symbolizes the township's "strength."

The beam's south side would feature the words, "Welcome to the Charter Township of Oxford," while the monolith would read "Est. 1837," the year the municipality was fgunded. If Orion shares in the cost, it would have wording identifying that township on the beam's north side.

All of the letters would be backlit using solar-powered, long-lasting LED lights.

The sign would be 18 feet long and 3 feet, 6 inches tall. It would made of styrofoam, some of which would be painted to give it a rock-face finish.

Styrofoam protects motorists should any vehicles ever crash into it and deters thieves since it's not a valuable material that could be sold for scrap.

"Orion Township loves the design of the sign," Bell said. "They like the colors of the sign. I may be a little premature in saying this . . . but they are very enthusiastic to come on board with this sign."

But not everybody likes the design.

"I thought that was an ugly-looking sign," said Oxford Township Trustee Melvin (Buck) Cryderman. "If Orion likes it, I guess we could go with it, but I thought the design could use a lot of work."

Trustee Sue Bellairs, who's also no fan of the design, questioned Orion's support of the appearance based on some comments she'd heard.

"(Orion officials) do like it," Bell said. "I didn't hear a negative comment on it."

Since the sign would be located in the middle of M-24, issues such as having adequate sight distance for drivers and the piling of wet, heavy snow by county plow trucks must be examined and resolved.

As for the gateway sign at Oxford's northern border., Bell said he contacted Metamora Township officials and as he expected, they're "not interested" in participating.