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Wayfinder signs direct visitors to destination sites in area

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By Tom Wilmoth

After some six years of planning, the city of Bedford is becoming more visitor friendly with a set of Wayfinder signs that have been springing up around city roads.

    “The signs have been a long time coming,” stated Bart Warner, assistant city manager.

    The idea for signs dates back to when Centertown merchants voiced the need to have signs pointing shoppers to downtown parking areas. That need, along with a desire to direct visitors from the National D-Day Memorial to Centertown, led to the city applying for a grant to pay for the destination-oriented signs.

    Now they’re becoming a reality, though the parking area signs have yet to be posted. “We’re working on that,” Warner stated.

    That became an issue during a recent city council budget work session when Vice Mayor Bob Wandrei pointed out that Centertown merchants had been waiting for those parking area signs for six years. “They are on the front burner,” added City Manager Charles Kolakowski, about getting those up.

    The Wayfinder signs are being prepared locally by Longwood Industries and feature a standard pattern that visitors can follow to various destinations in this area. The thought process is that when someone sees one of the signs, they should be able to find a location of interest — from Centertown to the D-Day Memorial, from Avenel to the Elks Home.

    The program has been a collaborative effort between Bedford Main Street, the city planning department and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The transportation enhancement grant through VDOT included 80 percent funding from the state and a 20 percent match from the city. In all, the first phase of the signs that have been put up have cost about $90,000.

    “The money is coming into the community and staying here,” Warner stated of the fact that Longwood Industries is making the signs. “They’re being locally produced and installed.”

    Warner said that hopefully the signs will be noticed and Longwood will be able to pick up even more business from other localities.

    The signs are made with tape which allows them to be changed, if needed. Such was the case when an errant apostrophe showed up on the signs pointing to the Elks Home. A simple piece of tape fixed the problem. Kolakowski said that means that as the signs go up, if changes need to be made, they can. As new destination areas of interest open, they can be added to the signs.

    The logo for the signs features the Peaks of Otter.

    Utilization of the signs is an effort to get folks to visit places they might otherwise overlook, Kolakowski added.