Group wants signs to attract travelers

Andy Brindisi sees the line of cars passing through Saratoga County on their way home from Adirondac

Andy Brindisi sees the line of cars passing through Saratoga County on their way home from Adirondack ski trips in the winter and thinks how the city is missing out.

If only a sign on the Northway alerted them to the city’s downtown business district, they might stop in for some shopping or a bite to eat.

“There’s really nothing indicating there’s a beautiful historic downtown,” he said. “I just don’t think we’re doing a good job.”

Brindisi is chairman of the I-87 Signage Committee formed in April as an offshoot of the Downtown Business Association. The committee wants the state Department of Transportation to erect a brown sign on the Northway directing people to the downtown.

But DOT rules won’t allow such a sign unless it refers to a specific place, said Joe Dalton, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. Signs exist for the Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, Saratoga Spa State Park and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

And a sign at Exit 14 already directs motorists to the Visitor Center, said Dalton, who contacted DOT for the business group. “Another sign would be a duplication of the visitors sign,” he said. “DOT has been very gracious. They haven’t been nasty at all.”

But the group is still trying to come up with another approach, Dalton said, possibly a sign referring to “Victorian Congress Park” that would pique drivers’ interest enough to pull off the highway.

The problem with coming up with one sign to describe the city’s appeal, Dalton said, is similar to the dilemma of inventing a logo for Saratoga Springs. There are too many attractions to combine them all into one image, he said.

Brindisi noted that Fredericksburg and Williamsburg, Va. and Lake Placid have signs pointing people toward the historic downtown.

“I love to drive across the country,” Brindisi said, noting he has stopped in some towns just because a sign beckoned him there.

“That’s how we just decided things, just based on interesting signs that we had discovered.”

Brindisi said that in addition to a sign on the Northway, the committee also would like the city to add more signs at the outskirts directing people to the downtown.

For example, when people come into the city from Union Avenue, a sign at the end of the street could direct them to turn right onto Circular Street, then left on Spring Street, he said.

But too many signs in a small city can be overwhelming, Dalton pointed out. “You can make this city just one gigantic street of signs,” he said. “Rather than have a city of signs, you’d rather have friendly people giving you directions.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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