El Dorado News

Sunday
July 23, 2017
El Dorado News Times

Kiosk replacement leads to complaints from local retailers

By By Tia Lyons Staff Writer
This article was published April 14, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

EL DORADO — The replacement of a downtown kiosk recently led to some complaints, and though the structure has since been moved, the El Dorado Historic District Commission addressed the issue Thursday as a point of reference for the future.

Last week, Mayor Frank Hash sent an email to downtown developers and property owners Richard and Vertis Mason, informing them that his office has received complaints about the placement of a kiosk on East Main between Jefferson and Hill.

The kiosk, which had previously stood for more than two decades on the corner of Jefferson and Elm, was temporarily removed as crews installed new sidewalks during an ongoing improvement project that covered several blocks downtown.

The second phase of the project was completed in late spring 2016, and in his reply to Hash, Richard Mason explained that the kiosk was set back up on East Main because wayfaring signs were expected to be installed on the corner of Jefferson and Elm.

The city has kept the way-finding signs in storage since they were purchased in 2014.

The department of public works has been adjusting the signs to add lettering and tone down loud neon colors that also reportedly drew complaints from downtown merchants when a few of the signs were initially rolled out more than a year ago.

The signs will be part of a way-finding system that the city and El Dorado Festivals and Events, Inc., are looking to implement to direct visitors to local attractions and other points of interest.

On Thursday, historic district Commissioner Teresa Golliher — also of Corinne Management, a property management company owned by the Masons — said the kiosk was moved next to the office of Union Square Guest Quarters, a downtown lodging establishment that is also owned by the Masons, on East Main.

In light of the complaints referenced by Hash, Golliher said Corinne Management has relocated the kiosk to the 100 block of North Jefferson upon the request of a business owner in the block who has pledged to help maintain the structure.

“It’s no longer an issue because it’s been moved. We moved it yesterday,” Golliher said. “There’s already posters on it. She wants it there. Everybody’s happy.”

Commissioners inquired about Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, another concern that had been raised during the brief time the structure was on East Main.

“Everything has been measured … It caused a huge issue, but it’s back on Jefferson, just up the sidewalk from where it was before,” Golliher said.

She noted that there is another kiosk on East Cedar in front of the Rialto Theater. Richard Mason also mentioned the second kiosk in his email exchange with Hash.

Golliher said the kiosks were originally set up years prior to the formation of the historic district commission and the implementation of design guidelines for properties within the commercial historic district, which encompasses Union Square/Downtown El Dorado.

Commissioners said the kiosks are grandfathered into the commercial historic district.

Commissioner John Benson Jr. contended that while the kiosks were placed prior to the adoption of the design guidelines, the structures and the postings on them “are pretty much in direct violation” of the design standards as they pertain to signs.

Benson cited a standard that said, “Commercial signs, posters, decals or advertisements should not be tacked, nailed, pasted or taped to any portion of a building, object, site or structure visible from the public right-of-way.”

His comments led to other questions from commissioners, including if the kiosks fall under street-scape guidelines, rather than those for signage, and if the Jefferson Avenue kiosk is still grandfathered in since it has been moved from its original location.

Commissioner Parks Hammond, who was part of a committee who revised the design guidelines after a two-year undertaking that was completed last year, explained that the intent behind the standard cited by Benson was to make sure such structures remain tidy.

“What we didn’t want was an unattractive situation, like I’ve seen in Greenwich Village, with masses of paper just crammed on there, and we don’t want create a trash problem,” Hammond said.

Golliher pointed out that double-sided bulletin boards with wrought-iron framework were also taken up during the sidewalk project and not replaced.

“They used to be horrible,” she said.

Elizabeth Eggleston, executive director of the EHDC, said the bulletin boards and kiosks were intended to display information in order to keep posters, flyers and other such items from being hung in the windows of downtown shops.

After further discussion, Commissioner Linda Rathbun suggested that the historic district commission go on record as acknowledging that the two kiosks are grandfathered into the commercial historic district and to emphasize that the kiosks should be maintained as outlined in the design guidelines.

Eggleston noted that the onion-domed kiosks were once lighted, and Golliher said Corinne Management is looking to light them again, adding that the project may call for the removal of six bricks from the sidewalk to install an underground electrical conduit.

“We want to make sure the (El Dorado City Council) does not have a problem with it (the location of the kiosk). We’re not hard-wiring anything until everybody is OK with it being where it is,” Golliher said.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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