PUYALLUP, WA – The Town of Puyallup is rethinking a plan to redesign the town’s welcome signs following a wave of feedback from community members.
As part of Puyallup’s original plan, proposed by the city’s Arts and Culture Commission, the town of Puyallup would hire artist CJ Rench to build a brand new welcome sign at the intersection of Meridian and SR 512 .
According to the organizers, the goal was simply to create a pleasant and welcoming sign to replace worn or damaged signs in the city.
“They [City Council] wanted something that celebrates the community, they wanted something that was family-oriented, welcoming, produced positive feelings from visitors and residents, ”said Scott Tkach, Senior Civil Engineer for the Town of Puyallup.
The current welcome sign at this location represents Mount Rainier, but damage over the years has knocked over the top of the mountain.
Unfortunately, the replacement sign that Rench and the Arts Commission landed on did not resonate with many local residents. The proposed panel, titled “Happy Humans” would have been between 16 to 18 feet long and 12 feet high. It represents two colorful humanoid figures, one standing in the outstretched palm of the other. A similar design by Rench can be seen in the courtyard of the local library, next to the Spray Park.
When the city unveiled the proposed sign last month, it received a flurry of public comment, which city leaders said were almost universally negative. The City’s Facebook post showing the new sign received 337 comments on its own, and several council members say they received emails from voters on the matter.
Many commentators have raised concerns that the sign does not convey Puyallup’s identity, suggesting instead that it should contain local elements like Mount Rainier, the Washington State Fair, or celebrate the heritage and history of the Amerindians.
“We had a lot of opinions from the public,” Tkach said.
KING 5 spoke to several members of the Puyallup Indian tribe, who said that a different sign could help solidify the relationship between the city and the tribe.
“We need to have our members in the city councils around us and be represented there so that someone can say, ‘Hey, the people of Puyallup are still here,'” tribal member Dakota Case told KING. .
Following the outcry, city council says it’s time to get back to the drawing board. At the city council meeting last week, elected council members voted 4-3 to send the proposal to the Arts and Culture Commission, which will have until January to present several new options to members of the city council for approval.
Following an outcry over the incident, city leaders said next time the public will be a bigger part of the conversation.
“We have had pretty positive feedback from the community and we are serving our citizens,” Deputy Mayor John Palmer said. “They elected us to represent them, so when we hear those kinds of comments, we have to listen.”