Merced will ask for artists’ drawings in the coming six months for new welcome signs at entry points around town.
The City Council voted 6-0 on Monday to hold a contest for renderings from anyone who wants to give it a shot, noting the city is not required to use any of the submissions. Mayor Mike Murphy was absent.
The council set the deadline for submissions for Oct. 6, saying that should give schoolchildren and art students a chance to participate.
Council members said they are open to signs that have a new slogan, but stressed they don’t intend to shed Merced’s traditional motto of “Gateway to Yosemite.”
“In no way, shape or form is there any intention of changing that or eliminating ‘Gateway to Yosemite,’ ” Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Blake said. “It’s just us being open-minded and allowing for people to come through with some ideas.”
In no way, shape or form is their any intention of changing that or eliminating ‘Gateway to Yosemite.’
Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Blake
The two Highway 99 entrances in the city, at Mission Avenue and 16th Street, were marked as the highest priorities. Entry points on Highways 59 and 140 would be considered less important, but signs still are planned there, according to Councilman Michael Belluomini.
“The subcommittee identified the six entry points to the city and ranked them in priority for funding,” he said.
Signs could cost anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 each, according to estimates previously provided by Belluomini.
Old arches were topped with electric signs reading “Merced: Gateway to Yosemite.”
Council members also spoke in favor of adding an arch inside the city, similar to archways erected over 16th Street 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.
Every budget season the council is asked to fund new programs, and most often those new services are related to recreation and job training for young people. So, identifying funding from outside of city coffers for the signs is important, according to Councilman Josh Pedrozo.
“We’re going to go ahead and start the contest but we haven’t identified funding,” he said. “I think that’s premature.”
The details on the contest are expected to be at www.cityofmerced.org in the next week or so, according to city staffers.