Salina city commissioners Monday unanimously approved an LED sign for the entrance to Salina’s Bicentennial Center that will be Salina’s largest, by far.

The sign itself is 11 feet by 16 feet, or 176 square feet, and has a 9-foot by 16-foot, high-definition electronic message board. In approving the sign, commissioners approved four exceptions to the city’s sign regulations.

Planning and Zoning Director Dean Andrew said the largest sign in Salina currently is the 4-foot by 10-foot sign at the Masonic Center, 446 S. Santa Fe.

The sign approved for the Graves Family Sports Complex at Kansas Wesleyan University is 4 feet by 13 feet.

Mayor Jon Blanchard said the changes to the entrance to the Bicentennial Center at the intersection of The Midway and Ohio Street will enhance property in the area. The city bought and razed three homes to make way for the entrance improvements, which include landscaping and the sign.

“I honestly believe the property values will be higher,” Blanchard said. “I think it will be a very attractive piece of property. If you look at it as it sat two months ago, it is an enormous improvement.”

Wanted larger sign

Architect David Greusel, with Convergence Design, said the original recommendation was based on a 206-square-foot LED sign, but the size was reduced because of costs.

“If we had unlimited resources, we would be here asking for a larger sign than the one we are asking for,” he said.

“LED marquee signs, as we call them, are very common in this building type and used by many, many areas to inform the public about what is happening at these facilities.”

He said while 176 square feet sounds large, it is barely visible from 1,000 feet away.

Greusel said the main entrance to the Bicentennial Center should have been off Ohio Street.

“It has never been developed as that,” he said.

He said the landscaping, sign and entry his company has designed will make it much easier for out-of-town visitors to find the Bicentennial Center from Ohio Street.

Four exceptions OK’d

Commissioners had to approve the following exceptions to the city’s sign ordinance in approving the new sign:

• The sign is located on a separate lot from the Bicentennial Center.

• The sign exceeds maximum sign size of 100 square feet.

• The electronic message portion of the sign, at 82 percent of the total sign area, exceeds ordinance maximum of 50 percent of total sign area.

• At 21.5 feet, the sign is taller than the 20-foot height limit.

Greusel noted that the sign would adjust to the outside light, with the lights being brightest during the day, when the sun is shining. It would be off from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., unless there is an event, in which case it would turn off 30 minutes after the event.

Study to move forward

Although there was no official vote, commissioners Monday also gave head nods to a $35,000 study to develop a business plan for adding a fifth refuse pickup route, moving to fully automatic trucks and citywide, curbside recycling.

Scott Pasternak, with a Kansas City consulting company Burns-McDonnell, told commissioners at a study session last week that a fully automatic system could save money. He said mandatory citywide recycling could cost each Salina household $3 to $4 a month.

City Manager Jason Gage said the automatic truck would have one driver and an automatic arm to empty the trash cart into the refuse truck.

— Reporter Tim Horan can be reached at 822-1422 or by email at thoran@salina.com.