A new slogan for the city of Merced was dead on arrival this week.
The council had asked for ideas for a new slogan from the community and recieved 77 suggestions, according to records. None of them got support on Monday.
The council instead decided to shift its focus to potential welcome sign ideas for the highway entrances to Merced. Though some have expressed concern for the cost of the signs, leaders have said the signs could help the city brand itself.
The community submitted 56 sign ideas, and three ideas for an archway that could be placed in downtown or some other significant location. The council took a suggestion from City Manager Steve Carrigan on Monday, which was to give city staff a chance to research an archway and ask a consultant to come up with estimates for other potential signs on highways 99, 140 and 59.
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City staffers will use a historical sign that once stood over the old Highway 99, which is now 16th Street, as its inspiration. Erected in 1927, the arches were topped with electric signs reading “Merced: Gateway to Yosemite.”
One arch was torn down before 1940 when Highway 99 was widened, according to Sarah Lim, director of the Merced County Courthouse Museum. What became of a second arch is unclear.
Councilman Michael Belluomini said the submitted sign ideas had a number of common threads, including imagery of the Merced Theatre, historical Merced County Courthouse, "Beginnings" sculpture at UC Merced and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Leaders will likely need to prioritize the most important locations for signs in case they can't raise enough money to pay for all of them, according to Councilman Kevin Blake.
Mayor Mike Murphy suggested that highway signs could look something like the Merced sign near the G Street underpass. The sign there is essentially a stack of rocks marked with "Merced" in gold letters.
"I think we need to be consistent in what we do and I think the sign has to be simplistic," he said. "For a highway sign, if we get too ornate or too detailed, you lose the value of having the sign."
A number of leaders said the city should consider working with the Arts Commission, a new consulting body made up of local arts groups that is in its infant stage of existence.